Imagine: you’re preparing a meal for a dinner party. You have a casserole ready to bake in the oven, potatoes to cook on the stove, you’re making gravy from scratch, and you’re waiting for a friend to come back from the market with fresh vegetables to prepare for a salad. You wonder what to do first to ensure that everything is warm and ready to eat when your guests arrive. Your dish in the oven will take the longest, so you’d planned to start it first, but you don’t know how long it will be until your friend arrives with the vegetables. You don’t want to start the dish too early so that it’s getting cold while you’re preparing the salad, which you plan to serve first … how do you know what to prioritize to ensure that the meal is ready on time?

GE Aviation faces this challenge every day … when building a jet engine, how does a team know how to prioritize work to ensure that an engine is delivered to an airline customer on time? GE is using data and real-time, digital insights to inform these decisions to drive operational efficiency in its shops, and ensure on-time customer delivery.

The tool generating these insights, GE Operations Advisor, provides plant leaders and their teams with a view of part and component execution and constraint status across GE Aviation sites against delivery schedules. This allows the team to see what’s really happening in the assembly process, rather than what was planned to happen. The tool auto-prioritizes tasks to keep assembly moving, allowing a plant leader to identify constraints and flag wrinkles in the process so that the teams know to focus their attention on these items first.

Todd Handlin, the functional owner of the Operations Advisor tool for GE Aviation, has experienced the challenge of making these daily decisions without real-time data firsthand. “I worked on the shop floor every day and had some sort of issue pop up that we could have been predicted and mitigated with this tool,” says Handlin. “The tool helps us detect and flag changes in near real-time and we can decide how to respond based on impact to make sure we’re optimizing our operations.

“As we use the tool, we continue to build out the ‘Operational Digital Twin’ of each part, which means that we can see how that part progresses throughout its lifecycle. This Digital Twin will allow the engineering team to pull insights on the process and constraints that support design enhancements that can then be integrated into the design process,” says Handlin.

As the Supply Chain Digital Twin is built, the team anticipates that this data will enable double digit percentage growth in on-time customer delivery. “We’re digitizing our operating system to gain intelligence that allows the teams to make informed decisions quickly, increasing our productivity and helping us deliver as efficiently as possible for our customers.”