For years, the supply chain was looked upon as a necessary evil. Manufacturing, warehousing and transportation were part of the cost of doing business, not what drove a company forward.
That is no longer the case. Every organization in every industry, including the aviation aftermarket, is challenged to do whatever it is they do better, faster and cheaper. Supply chains are no longer just overhead—the best companies view them as a competitive advantage.
Talk to airlines, OEMs, distributors and MROs about Spec 2000, the industry's communications backbone, and you are likely to hear that the system has been in place for years.
“We have Chapter 3 for exchanging purchase orders installed in our IT system and it's managed very well,” says Adrien Guillame, a project manager for logistics services with Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance.
What if an aircraft engine had a Facebook page? And what if that engine could update its status from the time it arrives in the overhaul shop until it ships to a customer? What if it could communicate how it's performing while it is in flight and let technicians know what needs to be done as it is coming in for a check?
For the past five years, Boeing and Fujitsu have been working together to develop an aircraft maintenance solution that incorporates radio frequency identification (RFID) technology and contact memory buttons (CMBs) with an integrated suite of software applications. Boeing will begin rolling out the system, known as automated identification technology (AIT), in the spring.
Collaboration was one of the highest-flying concepts during the Internet boom. The idea was simple: the best companies would seamlessly connect with their customers and suppliers so that information was shared and transparent. Companies that failed to collaborate were doomed. The hype was best illustrated by an ad from a then-famous supply chain software firm with the headline “Collaborate or Die.”
Whether you’re talking about stocking produce on a grocery store shelf, delivering subassemblies to an automotive line or stocking parts for an MRO facility, inventory management comes down to four Rs: The right part at the right place at the right time and at the right price. In the MRO business, you can add two more Rs—a part in the right condition and the right configuration.
As any MRO knows, controlling labor costs is one of the keys to remaining competitive, especially as the industry expands globally to low-wage countries in Eastern Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas.Cost control was central to Roger Porter’s strategy when he took over the Aeroframe repair facility in Lake Charles, La., from EADS Aeroframe Services in July 2005. “EADS was focused on increasing Airbus maintenance support in the Americas,” says Porter.
What are two of the biggest hurdles to the wider adoption of supply chain software tools in the MRO industry? If you said: the big upfront licensing fees and the long, disruptive implementation times, then you may want to consider an on-demand, or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), solution for some of your software needs.
During the Internet boom, retailers and consumer packaged goods manufacturers began talking about a new kind of demand-driven supply chain. Rather than build product based on historical forecasts, load up a warehouse and then push it out to the marketplace, savvy supply chain managers would capture real-time demand from point of sale systems and cash registers and use the emerging supply chain planning and management tools to make things according to demand. Sell one, make one.
Performance-based logistics (PBL) and lean maintenance are transforming the MRO business. At the same time, these new maintenance and business strategies have the potential to bring MRO supply chains in line with other industries that rely on supply chain technologies for coordination with suppliers as well as extensive parts tracking and record-keeping requirements, like automotive manufacturing and the pharmaceutical industries.
When planning began for a new 46,200-sq.-meter MRO facility at the Sabiha Gokcen International Airport in Istanbul, myTECHNIC’s board of directors determined that Lean principles would guide the project.
“Lean is often applied retroactively to a facility as a method for change,” said Remzi Saltoglu, myTECHNIC’s director of continuous improvement. “But one of our investors had read an article about Lean initiatives, and we decided to infuse Lean into every aspect of the design and layout of the facility.”