Customer service takes flight with server solution at aeronautical engineering firm
Aeroresponse is a team of engineers who travel the world to inspect aircraft engines. They depend on email to deliver inspection results, but an unreliable Internet connection resulted in costly downtime for customers’ aircraft and made it difficult to back up portable computers. Since deploying Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, Aeroresponse has improved turnaround times for customers and benefited from disaster recovery capabilities.
Aeroresponse aircraft engineers provide on-call commercial engine inspections using the latest digital video boroscope equipment with digital measurement capability. In today’s aviation industry, most airlines don’t own their aircraft, they lease them. Leasing companies put their aircraft through rigorous tests before they are leased out to a new customer. The last, most important, step is the engine inspection. When aircraft are grounded for inspections, the clock is ticking and money is at stake-up to £100,000 per day. Both the leasing companies and the airlines depend on Aeroresponse to complete the business-critical engine diagnostics so they can get the aircraft back into service as quickly as possible. “We build our business on being ready at a moment’s notice to help everyone resume flights quickly and safely,” says Wyn Davies, Cofounder of Aeroresponse.
With portable computers, smartphones, and digital video boroscopes, engineers fly around the world inspecting five or six aircrafts every week, compiling electronic images, video clips, and reports for each customer. “Customers need the diagnostic information quickly to initiate maintenance if necessary,” says Keith Brown, Aircraft Engineer at Aeroresponse.
With Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, we can deliver inspection results instantly so that customers can expedite engine repairs, resume flights, and save thousands of pounds."
Wyn Davies, Managing Director, Aeroresponse
In 2005, the company’s IT partner, Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Astrix Integrated Systems deployed Windows Small Business Server 2003 at Aeroresponse for email and central file storage. However, the physical office location had unreliable Internet connectivity. Aeroresponse relies on email to schedule inspections, to brainstorm over a difficult diagnostic, and to deliver the industry-recognised EASA Form 1 and EASA Form 1 Dual release certificates to customers that signify Civilian Aviation Authority (CAA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) clearance to fly. “We sent our reports using email as soon as we had connectivity, but we lost valuable time,” says Brown. “We sent DVDs with reports and video footage to customers upon return to the office, but if we went directly to the next job, customers waited longer. In addition, working in hangers, our computers were vulnerable to breakage or theft.”
“If our Internet goes down, we’re as grounded as the planes we are inspecting,” adds Davies. “We asked Astrix to re-evaluate our business technology to solve our issues with uploading data.”
Astrix recommended that Aeroresponse deploy Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials. Ideal for businesses with fewer than 25 employees, Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials is a user-friendly server solution that Aeroresponse could use to provide regular backups and automatic updates for the server and the engineers’ portable computers. Aeroresponse could store administrative files and its accounting solution on the server and employees could access files through a web browser using Remote Web Access. With this solution, Aeroresponse also can subscribe to Microsoft Office 365, a suite of cloud-based services, including Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, and Microsoft Lync Online, as well as Microsoft Office Professional Plus desktop software and Microsoft Office Web Apps. Exchange Online provides accessible email and SharePoint Online is an online collaboration solution the engineers and their customers could use to share inspection results. “With Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, Aeroresponse can take advantage of Microsoft cloud-based services so they are no longer affected by the office’s Internet connectivity issues,” says Mostyn Thomas, Managing Director of Astrix Integrated Systems.
In May 2011, Aeroresponse deployed Windows Small Business Server Essentials 2011 on a Dell PowerEdge T110 server. “Once again, Astrix made the right decision and is keeping us on the forefront of business technology developments,” says Davies. “The deployment was seamless: we have four on-premises desktop computers and five laptops connected to the cloud-based servers.”
By using Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, Aeroresponse expects to strengthen the attributes that already make it stand out as a company: shared expertise and responsive customer service. Other expected benefits include:
Improved customer results. Aeroresponse uses SharePoint Online to upload engine video clips and reports to a customer’s password-protected site. “Customers won’t have to wait for us to ship the DVD,” says Davies. “With Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, we can deliver inspection results almost instantly, so that customers can expedite engine repairs, resume flights, and save thousands of pounds.”
Enhanced data security. Instead of sending customer information in email messages, Aeroresponse can upload and store that data in security-enhanced SharePoint sites in Microsoft data centres. “Storing information in the cloud solved our concerns about losing laptops,” says Davies. “We need to keep documentation for a minimum of five years to satisfy FAA and CCA regulations. If they are stored in the cloud, they are protected: nobody’s going to be able to get access to them unless we give them access.”
Improved productivity. Using Remote Web Access to save and retrieve files on the server, everyone at Aeroresponse is working more efficiently. “Our Microsoft solution helps reduce travel time, so we can serve more customers. We can upload customer data to our server from a hotel room somewhere and then fly directly to the next inspection,” says Brown. “Dependable email also helps us brainstorm difficult situations to solve issues more quickly for customers.”
Better business continuity. By having daily backups across the network, and housing email messages and customer sites in Microsoft data centres, Aeroresponse gains disaster recovery capabilities. ”We’ve had occasions where we’ve lost a computer, such as when a cranking ratchet fell off a wing onto a laptop,” says Brown. “It took three days to fly back, recover the hard drive, and provision a new laptop. Now we have up-to-date images of every computer. We could phone Astrix to courier a new laptop and be back in business in less than 24 hours.”