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Advances in Aircraft Supply Chain Solutions | Airlines IATA Magazine

5 Aug 2021

The reduced demand seen during the pandemic, where parts and component repair sales fell by 60-70%, propelled the streamlining of the supply chain to adapt to leaner, optimised fleets. We spoke to Airlines IATA Magazine on the advances AJW have taken to help customers improve efficiency.

Aftermarket service providers in the aviation supply chain have long understood the need to help their customers improve efficiency. 


“From airframers to component OEMs, to independents and MROs, service providers had to flex fast, sparking digital innovation to eliminate administration and elevate the workforce productively.” said Sajedah Rustom, CEO of AJW Technique.


As commercial travel swiftly moved to narrow-body aircraft, accommodating the reduction in passengers, a significant increase in the retirement and subsequent surplus of wide-body aircraft inventory also emerged. Cargo became a lifeline with yields increasing by approximately 30% in 2020, creating new purpose with rapid passenger to freighter conversions. With business travel expected only to recover to 80% of pre-pandemic levels by 2024, airlines downsized their business models and cabin configurations appropriately. 


Here at AJW Group, where our entire structure is designed around supply chain process steps, we heightened the design and development of smart digital solutions to meet customers’ evolving needs, including the support of many passenger to Freighter conversions. We built digital tools and dashboards to closely monitor fleet recoveries by customer and by platform to ensure our operations are synchronized with flying patterns.


“We increased investment in customer-facing digitalization, resulting real-time monitoring dashboards and tracking tools, thereby making internal productivity fully transparent and in turn, the customer experience seamless from end to end.” said Tom De Geytere, Chief Sales Officer.


We launched a responsive, interactive and mobile customer portal, ensuring clients can access orders, view status on the go and extract any related documents. It enables 24-7-365 interaction with support teams, regardless of location, with no transaction delay, full data and process integration. 


We also released our new eCommerce platform, AJW® eventory, for parts trading, where users can browse and purchase from our extensive inventory, including our ‘priced to move’ Outlet stock, with easy access to full paperwork trace, chat functionality,  and the ability to ship via any chosen method and track the shipment in a few clicks. Furthermore, we are now working with third-party partners to list their inventory on our platform.


Advances in Aircraft Supply Chain Solutions | Airlines IATA Magazine

From an MRO point of view, we worked closely with airlines to ensure repair requirements are met with flexible, cost saving solutions to conserve cashflow and manage just-in-time operations, given volatility of service. For example, at AJW Technique, our state-of-the-art MRO facility in Montreal, we launched a Quote and Hold program, where we evaluate and hold the customer repair until time of need, after which we activate the repair and deliver to the customer, ready for flight, on-demand.


AJW Technique has also designed logistical storefront solutions in Miami and Singapore, allowing customers to ship their components to a local address, minimizing the administrative burden that comes with international freight and customs documentation.


We also expanded our Safety cell thanks to increasing volumes of slides and raft repairs from renowned local carriers. We have run a successful fulfillment model for many years, providing a cost-effective way to manage scheduled maintenance, reducing out-of-service events, while maximizing life limits.


Digital transformation has been critical, especially in MRO environments where tribal knowledge of the workforce is extensive. With the goal of maximizing technicians’ component touch-time, AJW Technique has also taken the leap of investigating tools to enable a digital shop floor. Examples include productivity trackers, automated payables and receivables, credit control automation, turnaround time gaming systems, performance management dashboards, piece parts provisioning models, and dynamic pricing algorithms. We have also tested asset location tracking using RFID and Bluetooth technology as a proof of concept. This allows technicians to have a full view of high value assets at their fingertips facilitating traceability and workflow management. Beyond RFID technology, we are also investigating other hands-free systems and collaborating with AJW Aviation on predictive maintenance discoveries also.


With our extensive spend leverage, we have successfully renegotiated service-level agreements with our major component OEM suppliers, improving supply and reducing costs. Forecasting incoming units combined with business intelligence data obtained from our airline customers has allowed us to proactively ramp up the supply chain for piece part, exchange pool and inventory purchases alike.  This ensures clear focus on aligning work inflow with flexed labour capacity and just-in-time material replenishment.


With over 100,000 exports a year, we work closely with our logistics partners to meet customers’ demands. 


Earlier this year we opened a new 35,000 sq. Ft. warehouse in Milan, primarily to support easyJet’s EU operations.” advises Tom De Geytere


Advancing our supply chain process step model has driven efficiencies at every level and with further enhancements planned, we are continuously improving integration within customer, partner and supplier systems.


Since 1932, for almost ninety years, AJW Group has been transforming aviation efficiency adapting dynamically and flexibly, through recessions, wars, terrorism and now a global pandemic. We have holistically addressed the aviation supply chain from end to end, integrating internal data, processes, systems and culture, with that of our customers, suppliers and strategic partners to ensure exceptional delivery and unfailing performance. 


Find out more about our Supply Chain Solutions here


Read the full Airlines IATA magazine here


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