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Even when most maintenance organizations are facing unfavorable economic circumstances, they continually invest in human capital as well as in enhancement of their technological capabilities. Investments in human capital go into facilitating the education, coaching, onboarding, orientation, mentoring, trainings, and development of employees. Such investments have been shown to have appreciable effects on organizations’ productivity, staff contribution, loyalty and knowledge base development. With the recent increase in global competition, Organizations need to continually invest in their human resources, recruit high caliber professionals and look beyond different methods to develop their human capital. (Bowles & Gintis, 1975; Hanushek & Woessmann, 2008). Studies have shown that organizations reap significant benefits from investing in technological resources. The investments go into institution of new technologies, upgrade of extant technologies, and building the capacity of those who are to utilize the technologies (Brynjolfsson & Hitt, 1998; Greenbaum, 1979).
For any organization, people form the most essential asset and the performance of staff fundamentally affects its success. In today’s competitive air travel industry, there is growing trend with the global aircraft maintenance and overhaul market (MRO). Aircraft maintenance is highly detailed and complex process, which requires a highly trained and specialized workforce performing practical, mechanical and technical tasks that requires hand input. Thus, there is a huge demand to recruit technicians, mechanics and qualified engineers in aircraft maintenance organizations to fulfill airlines expansions and the increasing demand of air travel. To add with, investing in people enhances maintenance organizations’ profitability along with productivity as these organizations depend greatly on motivated and skilled staff working directly on aircraft checks, routine maintenance tasks, detailed inspections and failure rectification. (Bowles & Gintis, 1975; Hanushek & Woessmann, 2008).
Maintenance organizations improve their competitive advantages over less progressive competitors by developing more skilled, productive, innovative and loyal work force such as technicians, engineers and ground support staff as the primary factor to drive overall productivity and quality is employee’s loyalty. That could make all staff development much relevant as well as allows them to see the varied attendant benefits and have a good grasp of their roles to attain the overall maintenance organizational objectives (Mahroum, 2007; Becker, 1993).
Another factor of employees’ loyalty is educational and training investments. Hence, It is very important for aircraft maintenance organizations to train, educate and develop their human resources capital by providing continuous training programs and courses such as Aircraft Type, Human Factors, Air legislation, and Fuel Tank Entry courses, which will in fact provide them with advanced skills to manage modern and complex technology in aviation industry.
In addition, organizations can achieve high levels of motivation, organizational commitment and cohesiveness from their staff by implementing bonus payouts based on employees’ attendance and performance, which improves their developing competencies, increase the output and help them to build their job satisfaction (McGunagle, D 2013; Raspa, G 2013).
However, aircraft maintenance industry faces several staffing problems. The first is the aging workforce that about to retire within the next decade, which will result in an excess of positions available. Secondly, there is a difficulty in attracting new recruits to fulfill the demanded workforce. Finally, aviation industry has continuous developments and changes, thus a constant demand for upgrading of skills is required. That may result in increasing training and recruiting costs to maintenance organizations (Skilled Immigrant, 2013).
On the other hand, Aircraft maintenance organizations attempt to streamline their work process by investing in advanced technology. Although investing in technology has very limited effect to maintenance organizations compared to human resources, they do invest in state-of-art technology, equipment, software and information technology where returns and benefits are visible and instant in the short-term.
Recently, many organizations adopted advanced technology in their businesses as digital practices are considered to be easier to handle and deal with. In the past, automating maintenance planning was considered to be difficult, time-consuming and expensive. Therefore, aircraft maintenance organizations invested in interactive software programs that play a large role in eliminating the need to hire and train additional human resources to plan regular maintenance, configuration management and store technical records such as Sabre System. As advanced software collects and process data, employees will have more time to develop and focus on their practical work without having to track several activities at the same time and that improves overall job productivity (Anderson, A, 2013)
By getting involved in advanced technology, maintenance organizations introduce new software systems to their store facilities to track and trace aircraft serviceable/non-serviceable items, components and spare parts which in fact helps to get instant support for shipping issues and returns. (Can suggest some software here like ERP, CRM etc)
In terms of cost efficiency, investment in technology is an advantage in certain ways and disadvantage in others. The downsides of technology include that organizations at times incur significant expenditures in installing, supporting and updating the acquired technologies such as new instruments, equipment and software programs. As technology advances, employees need to be trained continuously to track the remarkable change and development in technology, which might increase the overall expenditures, and that may significantly affect the organization’s profitability and revenues (Brynjolfsson& Hitt, 1998).
In terms of technology failure, only a human can identify that error and correct it, as advanced technology cannot replace human logic. Best example of that scenario is BITE tests on many aircraft systems, where a technician should be involved to start the test and rectify any failure indicated in accordance with maintenance manual.
Another limitation of technology in maintenance organizations is that Aircraft maintenance certifications and records require an input from a certified engineer to confirm that the required maintenance on a particular aircraft has been done in accordance with Civil Aviation Authorities regulations and manufacturer’s standards, such as signing job cards and CRS (Certificate of Release to Service) an aircraft, in which technology can’t be adopted.
Organizations that excessively apply technology in their processes risk losing their personal appeal as workers become more reliant on machines and less self-reliant. This means that if a computer or machine breaks down, employees become disable until the issue is resolved. Obviously, the workers become less and less valued as technology is progressively adopted by any given organization (Belcher, L, 2013).
To sum up, investment in people could have a great impact to maintenance organizations in comparison with technology. Any investments put into developing human capital occasion real improvements in organizations’ bottom lines as the employees’ sets of skills improve. Trainings raise employees’ efficacies, and consequently the organizations’ profitability. Well-trained employees are appreciably self-reliant. Some technological platforms can only be effectively utilized by employees in whom an organization has continually invested and are expected to run, develop and maintain that technology.
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