Spare Parts Logistics for Aviation Industry

May 15, 2018 Blog

by Mr. A. Venkataraman, Vice President, Mission Critical Supply Chain division.

Air transportation has truly made the world a global village.  Whether passengers or cargo movement, the ability to transport quickly over great distances improves the quality of life of people across the globe.

In this blog, I will talk about repair management and spare parts logistics for the aviation industry.

Repair management and spare parts logistics is one of the most challenging activity due to the high costs, global nature of business and very intense competition. Airlines and operators are increasingly looking at optimal maintenance strategies due to rising costs, improved quality of spare parts and maintaining reduced inventories. Maintenance is one of the largest operational cost categories (after fuel) and as such provides a major opportunity for reducing costs. There are two types of maintenance strategies- Corrective and Preventive. While preventive maintenance activities are pre-planned, e.g. replacing parts after a fixed time interval; corrective maintenance is the replacement or repair of a component after it has failed, is unscheduled and therefore requires a greater amount of agility.

Hence, logistics planning, maintenance schedules and spare parts inventory planning must be centered around the objective of maximizing aircraft availability and operability.

Procurement Strategy

One of the most critical functions, since storing spare parts for airplanes serves as an insurance against costly downtime. Thus, carriers and their suppliers must try their best to determine right number of spares being available at the right place and at the right price. There are two categories of spare parts of the airplane- critical parts and non-critical parts. Planning for building critical parts inventory can be challenging.

Using proper analysis tools and IT systems, which collaborates with their suppliers, airlines can estimate the demand time and place and make available required spare parts. Procurement process is indeed very important process to ensure the proper availability of spare parts at the very right time and the place where the part is required. Use of collaborative IT systems where airlines, their suppliers and 3PL use one single platform to communicate with each other and to trade is imperative to cut down buffer stock and enable an efficient spare parts management system.

3PL’s role

Integrated supply chain services which include transportation, warehousing, cross-docking, inventory management and packaging are some of the services which 3PL should be capable of.

However, the most important thing for a 3PL to have is the mindset that they ensure that the customers’ assets are always in operational condition with minimum downtime. This can be done by creating and maintaining strong relationships with the customers’ OEM partners, vendors and operators.

Managed Inventory is also an important capability where the 3PL monitors, plans and manages inventory on behalf of customers based on expected demand and as per agreed minimum and maximum inventory levels. The spares can range from very small items like cables, pcb etc to very large ones like motors, wingspans, window screens, tyres etc. 3PL should have their warehouses designed to provision storages for each accordingly and the expertise to handle the same.

Transportation facilities to cater from regular TATs to very stringent to 24×7 availability on emergency is an integral service that 3PL should provide along with warehousing.

Infra capabilities, IT systems and processes should be responsive and agile to supply parts on a just-in-time basis to meet critical needs.

A great 3PL will find a balance between inventory, stockout and obsolescence costs, while offering competitive service contracts.

At ProConnect, we understand the business challenges faced by the aerospace and aviation sector, so we tailor our solutions to give an integrated approach towards maintaining the uptimes of aircrafts.

In my next blog, I will take up the support services which a 3PL can give for specialized services such as medical aviation.

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