Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend an exclusive executive event at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), hosted by PTC’s Servigistics Business Unit (SBU).
Given the AMRC’s partnerships with leading aerospace manufacturers (Boeing and Rolls-Royce being two), it was an appropriate venue for discussing a four-step process organizations in the commercial aviation sector can follow to optimize their service parts management (SPM) practices:
There are four key capabilities well-run parts planning teams possess: demand forecasting, inventory optimization, order planning, and exception management. That’s according to Wes Malcolm, the Servigistics Business Unit’s Service and Aftermarket Lead, EMEA.
Before you figure out how many parts you need to stock, and where, you need a reliable forecast of future material requirements demand. After nailing down a forecast, you can’t just procure parts like a 10-year-old with a blank check – you need to figure out how to satisfy demand with your existing inventory, essentially using your supply chain as a strategic asset.
Wes Malcolm discusses the pillars of a strong parts planning organization.
Referencing his conversations with executives at organizations from Southwest Airlines to Boeing, Malcolm acknowledged four challenges parts planning organizations should be capable of handling:
Why invest in such advanced parts planning capabilities? Malcolm referenced the U.S. Coast Guard’s operational and financial ROI: The branch increased its aircraft uptime by 6% while saving $11.6 million in parts costs within the first 12 months of deploying advanced parts planning functionality.
Many MROs lack insight into planners’ forecasting data, hampering their ability to align their activities with part demand. Steven Caldwell, VP of Business Development, Servigistics Business Unit, explained how the Internet of Things solves this problem.
Referencing Servigistics’ Connected Service Parts Management capability, Caldwell explained the IoT’s ability to not only provide more accurate parts data, but also facilitate unit planning and proactive MRO.
“For example, you can use your equipment installed base and utilization data (such as flight hours) to forecast unscheduled removals,” said Caldwell. “In addition, you have the option to track life-limited parts removals based on equipment flight cycles.”
What are the benefits of analyzing all that data? Caldwell found that IoT data can increase part forecast accuracy by 40%.
Steven Caldwell discusses the benefits of IoT-based parts forecasting at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
Implementing Connected Service Parts Management also sets the stage for creating a more operations-focused parts planning process.
For example, projecting availability needs for an organization – whether it be a defense entity or private enterprise – can decrease stock by 5%. Servigistics achieves this by assessing the criticality of certain components to an asset’s availability and correlating that variable with that asset’s projected activity.
AR-assisted maintenance, manufacturing intelligence, and additive manufacturing were just three of many innovations the team had the privilege to experience.
Deloitte hosted a demo showing how augmented reality could guide novice technicians through complex service procedures, choose parts, and diagnose problems.
The consultancy’s demo provided an exciting look into MRO’s gradual transformation. In the not-too-distant future, aircraft technicians will follow instructions through interactive 3D animations. Even when experienced technicians encounter equipment they’ve never worked on, this type of content will empower them to resolve service issues relatively quickly.
Want to hear more of Wes Malcolm's input on managing commercial aviation supply chains? Register for the webinar below to learn about outsourcing warehousing, transportation, last-mile distribution, and inventory planning: