: 5 min

Safran Engineering Services innovates to reduce the time required to handle concessions for all the aerospace programs.

But do you know what a concession is? A dispensation is the compulsory handling process of a part when an operator detects a defect and needs to know whether it is acceptable or not. Safran Engineering Services has been taking on this activity for many aerospace companies and today boasts considerable expertise allowing it to innovate. Mahmoud Salmouni is in charge of the concessions program. He tells us how his teams based in France, Morocco, Spain and India create synergies in a field where performance is crucial.

The dispensation handling time is a challenge for production chains.

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A compulsory element in the industrial process, a concession involves parts that, because they do not comply with all the size and tolerance requirements set in the definition plans, are removed from the production line for reasons of nonconformity. At this stage, concessions offer the possibility to decide whether some of these parts could, however, be reintroduced into the production chain.

"Our teams take on the mechanical analysis of the part in the name of our customers, compare it to the definition plan and decide what will happen", explains Mahmoud Salmouni. There were three options:  They may be either acceptable as they are (AEE, Acceptable en l'État), or unacceptable (INC, Inacceptable) or a request for rectification may be issued (DDR, Demande de Retouche). First of all, they must ensure that  the part will comply with the mechanical service life constraints and that it will be easily integrated into its environment, that the deviation will not decrease the performance of the final product".

What purpose do concessions serve in the aerospace sector? "Aircraft parts are very expensive and we can't afford to scrap all the parts that do not conform", he adds. In their offices in France, Morocco, Spain and India, the Safran Engineering Services team thus provide the support production teams need, and work in conjunction with their technical excellence centers, customers, technical divisions and suppliers. Nevertheless, the response and handling time must be continuously improved optimized so that parts are only blocked for a very limited period of time on the production chains. "Therein lies our challenge", explains Mahmoud.

Optimizing the way dispensations are handled is Safran Engineering Services' challenge

For four years, Safran Engineering Services' business has been booming thanks to the "Concession" program. What with the harmonization of practices on the sites where the teams are present, improvement of quality, increase in business in India and Morocco to reduce costs, the handling process has already been optimized.

"For instance, being able to take responsibility for the whole concessions process, from the detection of the nonconformity up to the signing by the technical manager, helps reduce by half the handling time", explains Mahmoud Salmouni. In short, what used to take an average of ten days, is now dealt with in five. Also, by pooling and building on the feedback regarding dispensations handled in offshore countries (90% today as against 50% five years ago), Safran Engineering Services managed to provide its customers with a more advantageous offer.

"Not only that. Thanks to the experience we have acquired, we are able to extend the tolerance ranges for deviations and thus, maybe eventually, the basic definition plan. Parts who used to be the subject of a concession process could no longer be", says Mahmoud.

Innovate, over and over again

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New Technologies such as data, e-learning, digitization and artificial intelligence open up new prospects for development. Technological advances which propelled the concessions program into the 4.0 era. A perfect example of Safran Engineering Services' innovativeness: the "No Concession" project initiated by the teams specializing in computation in Toulouse. As Thibaud Chong, an engineer and project manager in mechanical computation at Safran Engineering Services, puts it: "No Concession" is a solution that speeds up the handling process of deviations for parts thanks to augmented reality. Using his/her tablet, the operator can scan the part and the acceptable deviations are clearly identified: s/he then decides either to keep it or scrap it.

However, Safran Engineering Services' actual progress in that field does not end here. Many projects saw the light of day, in particular boosted by the Innovathon, an event that brings together employees from all over the world who come to nurture innovative ideas. "Today, our teams use data analytics technologies associated with artificial intelligence in order to further optimize the concession handling time, and even reduce the number of concessions to be handled". How? On the one hand, by building on the data generated since Safran Engineering Services has taken over these activities and by developing an algorithm capable of finding similar concession cases and suggesting handling options. On the other, by directly acting on the root causes of the concession. "The algorithms we develop can spot, in the concession handling history, the zones in which the tolerance range for deviations can be extended. The definition plan could thus be changed. If the tolerances are extended on the definition plan, the number of nonconforming parts would simply decrease. There is an actual, obvious and tangible impact on the number of concessions, explains Mahmoud.

This industrial progress allows the speeding up of the decision-making process, reduces the number of upstream concessions and offers customers greater reactivity... It also demonstrates the innovativeness of the teams and their determination to work together whether they are in India, France and Morocco.

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