Eclipse Aviation is doing something that hasn’t been done in 40 years, not since Bill Lear introduced his Lear jet. It’s designing and building a new jet as a start-up company. It’s also flying in the face of an industry norm by introducing a better product at a lower price. In fact, the Eclipse 500 will sell for only a quarter of the cost of the least expensive jet on the market today. It’s all part of Eclipse’s plan to design and produce modern, affordable jet aircraft – making private jet travel a realistic option for a broader population.
Eclipse’s approach is to leverage technology to create these “disruptive” products, destined to change aviation transportation throughout the world. As a start-up, there were no legacy systems in place to navigate around. The company was free to work with a clean sheet of paper to develop a web-centric technology strategy from the ground up.
As the backbone for its e-business infrastructure, Eclipse chose a mySAP All-in-One solution for the aerospace and defense industry, powered by the SAP NetWeaver integration and application platform. NetWeaver is the technical enabler that provides an evolutionary, step-by-step way to building services-based, enterprise-scale business solutions – and the technology that would differentiate Eclipse from competitors.
“We wanted a world-class, tier-one solution with rich aerospace and defense functionality,” says Eclipse Chief Information Officer Michael Brown. “From the beginning, we’ve been focused on Eclipse as a world-class company. We intended our systems and processes to be a primary differentiator between us and our competitors.”
To quickly roll out a successful solution, Eclipse worked with SAP and itelligence, Inc., a global IT consulting company and the regional SAP Business Partner covering Eclipse’s home state of New Mexico.
“SAP and itelligence thoroughly understood the needs of a start-up, midsize company,” says Brown. “They partnered with us and put together a package where we could start small and then grow into additional capabilities. This allows us to plan for the future. The competition didn’t offer that option – they approach everybody with a cookie-cutter solution, whether you’re a start-up or a FORTUNE 500 company.”
Today, the fully integrated and expandable solution is based on an open, adaptable technology platform. For Eclipse, that means close collaboration and integration with key business partners of today and tomorrow and an open path to future IT investments.
Reaching new heights with e-business
One way Eclipse differentiates itself is through its web-centric business model. SAP NetWeaver enables the company to integrate people, information and business processes across disparate technologies and organizations. The goal is to give all authorized customers, vendors, Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] regulators and employees access to Eclipse systems through the Internet.
The SAP Web Application Server within NetWeaver supports platform-independent web services that make this collaboration possible. Collaboration Folders (cFolders) within NetWeaver enable teams to set up joint virtual work areas on the Internet to share information. This approach not only cuts travel expenses and improves data consistency, it also reduces project runtimes significantly, which in turn can cut product development costs.
“We wanted to have a fluid, electronic flow of information between customers, vendors and ourselves,” says Eclipse Director of Application Development Dennis Hanke. “We’re using SAP NetWeaver components such as SAP Web Application Server and cFolders to collaborate with vendors, concentrating all vendor communication within the Vendor Portals in cFolders. This includes electronically exchanging drawings, including e-mail and discussions, and providing online access to all required policies, procedures and forms.”
With vendors around the world, from Japan to Italy and Chile to the UK and Canada, this “transparent” integration is critical to streamlining communications and creating strong vendor relationships that reach across geographical and organizational barriers.
Eclipse’s largest partner is the FAA, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of civil aviation and that aircraft designers and manufacturers comply with regulations. This entails a tremendous amount of reporting – greatly simplified by the mySAP All-in-One solution and SAP NetWeaver technology.
“We wanted to build a collaborative environment with the FAA to provide instant access to the documents it needs to verify specifications and inspections,” Hanke says. “This is normally a laborious, paper-based process. Our mySAP All-in-One solution enables us to track everything electronically, from vendor operations through to final on-site assembly.”
Off to a flying start
Eclipse is realizing these benefits quickly through the fast rollout engineered by SAP and itelligence, one of the world’s largest SAP certified Business Partners. The phased implementation approach was to “think big” but “start small,” getting the basics up and running first and moving forward with a stable foundation.
“We implemented purchasing functionality and a number of aspects of mySAP Financials and the Materials Management component within 90 days,” Brown says. “We then moved quickly into the Production Planning, Human Resources, and Project System components, along with mySAP Product Lifecycle Management and
The pre-configured mySAP All-in-One solution not only saves time, it decreases implementation costs. Incorporating SAP Best Practices for the aerospace and defense industry, it also provides detailed documentation and content for completing and streamlining business processes.
Eclipse is in the process of installing Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO), mySAP Business Intelligence, SAP Business Information Warehouse, mySAP Customer Relationship Management, mySAP Supplier Relationship Management, SAP Enterprise Portal and SAP Strategic Enterprise Management.
SAP solutions provide the breadth and depth required for Eclipse’s long-term growth. The incremental implementation approach allows them to deploy what they need, when they need it.
“We chose a software solution that would take us into the future,” Hanke says. “We are midsize now, but will be growing into a large aircraft manufacturer. We are building the plane of the future, and we’re deploying the software that supports our current and future operations.”
For more information on itelligence, link to: www.itelligencegroup.com.
View the SAP success story on Eclipse at: http://www.sap.com/solutions/smb/pdf/CS_Eclipse.pdf
To learn more about Eclipse Aviation, visit: www.eclipseaviation.com.
Hear Eclipse’s CEO Vern Raburn talk about the benefits of the mySAP All-in-One and SAP NetWeaver solutions, part of a SAPPHIRE 2004 keynote presentation by SAP executive Shai Agassi. Link to: http://www8.sap.com/community/pub/events/2004_05_SAPPHIRE_US/keynotes.aspx