AI and Azure Drive Better Business Processes at SMBC Aviation Capital
Using emerging technologies and Microsoft Azure solutions to transform and automate aircraft utilisation reports.
Read time: 4 mins
Version 1 developed an innovative, automated solution for SMBC Aviation Capital’s aircraft utilisation reports that has eradicated the need for manual processing (previously taking 50 people-days per month) and reduced processing time from more than 30 minutes per report to five.
Version 1’s Innovation Labs first developed a successful proof of value using its Smart Action Suite to demonstrate the effectiveness of AI, Robotics Process Automation and Smart Text which has now been further developed as AURA (Aircraft Utilisation Report Automation) and is live.
Our solution is part of SMBC Aviation Capital’s wider digital transformation program to support their ambitious business expansion plans.
Dublin-based SMBC Aviation Capital is the world’s second-largest aviation lessor, owning and managing nearly 900 aircraft for customers such as EasyJet, Delta, Southwest, Tui, and Turkish Airlines. Every minute of the day, one of SMBC Aviation Capital’s aircraft takes off or lands somewhere in the world. Aviation leasing is one of Ireland’s largest industries, employing over 8,500 people across the country, and contributing €750,000,000 annually to the economy.
SMBC Aviation Capital has ambitious growth plans, leveraged on future-proofing their business through the implementation of carbon credit solutions for airlines and the acquisition of young, new technology, narrowbody aircraft that have stayed in high demand despite the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and Ukraine conflict.
As the company continues to scale, Head of Customer Operations and IT Elaine Collins is leading a digital transformation programme to revolutionise efficiency and add value for customers at every step:
“The challenge and the opportunity both lie in technology which constantly offers new, innovative ways of working and with that, competitive advantages, increased efficiency, and a better customer experience. Our focus is the creation of autonomous operations that can make intuitive decisions, improve agility and reliability, and deliver a perceptive customer experience. It’s about ensuring SMBC Aviation Capital is agile, resilient, and able to respond to change at speed.”
Aircraft utilisation reports are the aviation leasing industry’s bedrock. Lessors and airlines depend on them for accurate billing, aircraft localisation, robust maintenance forecasting, accrual of funds for maintenance costs and financial risk management. It’s therefore vital that the data extracted from these reports is 100% accurate.
Airlines send monthly reports for each aircraft – with varying formats and structures ranging from typed Word and Excel documents to hand-written PDFs. They are traditionally processed manually, with large variances in content and formatting between airlines, which require significant time and human resources to ensure the data is correct.
At SMBC Aviation Capital, each aircraft utilisation report took more than 30 minutes to manually review and process, requiring around 50 people-days per month to complete. As SMBC Aviation Capital’s trusted IT services partner, we worked with their IT Team to transform the analogue solution to an automated, accurate and data-analytics rich solution.
We sought to harness the benefits of disruptive, emerging technologies to revolutionise aircraft utilisation reports, moving from a data administration model to one of automation and rich data analytics. We developed a successful Aircraft Utilisation Report Automation solution – AURA.
Version 1’s Innovation Labs set to work, using our Smart Action Suite to first develop a proof of value demonstrating the effective automation of aircraft utilisation reports. The Smart Action Suite leverages emerging technologies such as Robotic Process Automation, Natural Language Processing, Open-Source libraries, and Artificial Intelligence to provide productivity-focused solutions. Following the successful proof of value, we implemented the proven solution as AURA.
AURA uses emerging technology to streamline workflows by combining Version 1’s Smart Data Capture tool and automation with multiple Microsoft Cloud products such as Azure Forms Recognizer, Logic Apps, Azure Functions, and Azure Table Storage. This creates a single, end-to-end, automated process, and offers a completely new approach compared to the manual processing carried out by other lessors across the globe.
AURA deploys Logic Apps to monitor a shared mailbox for attachments, which are sent to the appropriate Azure Functions for processing, file conversion and interaction with Azure Forms Recognizer. Azure Form Recognizer deploys AI and Optimal Character Recognition to extract handwritten, typed text and structure from very disparate PDF, Word, and Excel email attachments sent by the airlines. It converts them into a user-friendly format and stores them in Azure Table Storage.
Data flows to a Power BI reporting suite every 30 minutes, and every report that surfaces the AURA data is updated automatically. Accuracy is essential – and therefore we use an Advanced Machine Learning Model to further ‘train’ and optimise AURA e.g. to learn from cultural and region-specific idiosyncrasies
Real Differences, Delivered
- Full automation of the aircraft utilisation report process, reducing time taken to manually process a report from more than 30 minutes to five minutes, with no human intervention required
- The provision of ‘Confidence Scores’ for each report based on Advanced Machine Learning, with ongoing ‘training’ so the reports continue to improve with time
- Faster, better access to metrics, with new insights that weren’t previously available, enabling better forecasting of aircraft maintenance scheduling and funding, and airline business performance/risk management
- Increased customer data, which SMBC Aviation Capital is leveraging to provide a more dynamic and supported service to their airline customers e.g. proactively recommending different aircraft for particular routes, saving customers money, reducing their carbon emissions, and preventing underutilisation of aircraft
- Opportunities for scalability, with SMBC Aviation Capital now considering how to deploy similar technologies to automate and improve their billing.
About Version 1
Version 1 proves that IT can make a real difference to our customers’ businesses. We are trusted by global brands to deliver IT services and solutions which drive customer success. Our team of difference-makers work tirelessly to provide independent advice and deliver impactful changes to help our customers navigate the rapidly changing Digital-First world we live in. Our greatest strength is balance in our efforts to achieve Customer Success, Empowered People and a Strong Organisation, underpinned by a commitment to our values. We believe this is what makes Version 1 different and more importantly, our customers agree.
Latest News from Version 1
Blog: September 27, 2023
Significant changes are coming to Oracle on-premises EPM. We can help you make the right choices. There is an unavoidable reality brewing for companies still using on-premise Oracle Hyperion Enterprise...
Blog: September 27, 2023
Version 1 Recognised in the 2023 Gartner® Market Guide for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Professional and Managed Services
The cloud migration landscape is evolving at breakneck speed, and if Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) is a part of your IT strategy, then you are in for a ride that promises to be both exciting and challenging....
Digital Guides, Downloadable Content: September 27, 2023
Navigating the complexities of migrating enterprise workloads to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) demands specialized knowledge. Version 1 is proud to be listed as a Representative Vendor in the new Gartner®...