4 Sep 2019
LARA Magazine speaks to AJW Group’s President and CEO about the complexities of supplying airlines with components at minimal notice.
In a recent article published by LARA magazine, Bernie Baldwin speaks to AJW’s President and CEO, Christopher Whiteside. They examine the complex juggling act performed by MRO companies who supply airlines with thousands of components at minimal notice, around the globe, as fast as possible.
There can be few things more annoying to an airline than to be losing money because an aircraft is stuck on the ground simply for want of a spare part. The problem does not occur, of course, when airline maintenance departments keep plenty of stock, but these are the days of just-in-time supply chains and those chains need to be well-controlled.
As a renowned parts supplier, AJW Group is well-versed in the most challenging aspects an aftermarket provider faces in helping airlines keep an optimum inventory. CEO, Christopher Whiteside, observes that all airline operators have an individual approach to inventory risk management:
“Some take an excessively conservative approach to stocking inventory, whereas others have extensive inventories which can be challenging to dispose of due to the age and volume of components. This can be compounded by difficulties in obtaining accurate historical data on component usage from airlines and attitudes towards inventory pooling.
The key is for providers to take a bespoke approach to help airline operators manage the inventories affectively. As a proven specialist in supply chain management, AJW can not only optimise the supply of component inventory for airlines but help them balance stock levels and increase financial efficiency through asset management programmes.
This starts by taking each customers’ requirements on a case-by-case basis and aligning its offering to the carrier’s individual needs. AJW has become renowned in the market for its innovative, agile and efficiency-driven approach.”
“For example, AJW is easyJet’s strategic partner for the management, storage, and distribution of the airline components, consumables and expendable inventories across its European network of approximately 50-line-stations. In addition, easyJet fully outsourced to AJW the responsibility for component repair and overhaul; and the purchase of all consumables and expendable inventories in support of the airlines 320 plus aircraft. In exchange, AJW provides a complete supply chain and logistical solution to easyJet that delivers the right part, to the right place at the right time.
A key feature of the agreement is the strategic sourcing of repairs for OEMs and MROs, including the AJW Technique maintenance hub in Montreal, for component repair and overhaul service. As part of the agreement, AJW is providing dedicated repair specialists, utilising its world-class portal and predictive analysis to support Bombardier in improving customer service, component reliability and time on-wing.”
No matter which specialism a company has in the supply chain business, innovations in IT must be monitored so that the right application can be employed where it is needed.
“Having advanced digital tools in place is essential to help an airline make cost efficiencies. Technology can be used to forecast demands for parts and tracking shipments of them, and that’s crucial for a company such as AJW which typically dispatches 4,500 shipments per week. While most are under 50kg (110lbs) there a few larger ones like engine inlet cowls or internal drive generators.
Traditionally, AJW used RFID technology to track every step in the delivery of urgent parts for AOG situations. It pulls this data into a central data warehouse and matches all tracking data to each customer order, meaning AJW can see every movement of delivery.
Right now, we are testing the live GPS-based transmitters on shipments so AJW and its customers will know exactly where a shipment is, physically and in real-time. The trial is for AOG deliveries for a major airline.”
The other critical IT system according to Whiteside, is forecasting demand for the parts, with a need to do this for multiple customers:
“AJW has its own forecasting software, fed by hundreds of thousands of data points on hours flown and part removals, all segmented by aircraft age. We take the mean time between the unscheduled removal of a part and put it into a forecasting tool, helping to predict accurately the time-frame for most component failures.
This is only one element of predictive analytics – AJW also invests in forecasting staff, who then work with the software and render sanity checks on predictions. For live analytics, humans are always needed!”
At AJW, when looking at how the supply chain can be developed in the future, it’s all about the needs of the customer.
“The customer demands live real-time visualisation of their product. While service execution is paramount to any customer, our desire is to offer a comprehensive global end-to-end visualisation of product for the AJW global aerospace supply chain, while enhancing our real-time event management.”
We are always looking for ways to enhance and streamline processes within the aviation supply chain, resulting in efficiencies for our customers and the industry as a whole.
Read the full article published in LARA magazine.
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