3 Spare Parts Lessons From the US Coast Guard


The United States Coast Guard (USCG) owns more than 200 fixed and rotary wing aircraft. Those assets need to be ready for deployment at a moment’s notice to perform some of the most dangerous search and rescue missions.

To ensure these aircraft are available when its 50,000-person staff need them, the USCG requires careful, precise spare parts planning and forecasting. Using PTC’s Service Parts Management solution, the USCG is able to plan for execution. What can businesses with extensive spare parts inventories learn from the USCG’s use of this tool?

1. Analyze spare parts demand across networks of locations

The USCG operates 24 service and depot locations across the United States, each having its own unique part needs. The aircraft stationed at these locations contend with different environmental challenges such as temperatures, salt water, humidity, and the like. Each must function on its own, but also in concert with others to make sure the entire fleet is ready.

Your global service locations operate the same way. Each location experiences different service parts demand, but none of them exist in a vacuum. Multiple locations may depend on each other to deliver spare parts when unexpected demand occurs.

A service parts management solution enables you to strategically place spares across a network of service properties, whether those properties be forward stocking locations, parts warehouses, or maintenance depots.

2. Leverage spare parts planning to support service-level agreements

Just like its counterparts in commercial aviation or other industries, the USCG must operate under budget, and that budget is decided years in advance by Congressional approval. Such approvals are similar to service-level agreements in that they specify the USCG must maintain mission capability without overextending costs. 

Using a service parts management tool allows you to forecast and model service part scenarios, such as how your inventory can support current SLAs. Some systems can even calculate the costs of failing to satisfy the terms of your SLAs, comparing spare parts inventory costs with noncompliance penalties.

3. Account for unusual circumstances

Nobody could have predicted the ravages of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The USCG performed heroic rescues around the clock, putting its resources under enormous strain. When unforeseen circumstances hit your business, can you model how long it will take your service locations to recover? Can you see what happens to excess inventory over time? Deploying a parts management system won’t allow you to predict when times of duress will occur, but it will allow you to recover more efficiently.

None of these strategies exist to simply meet an arbitrary fill-rate or on-shelf availability. The USCG’s planning is always in service of supporting aircraft readiness. You can apply the same strategy to your service business by seeing your fill-rates only as valuable as your asset or equipment availability. Using the right tool can make sure that you are focused on outcomes, not just metrics.

To learn more about how the USCG used PTC’s SPM solution, watch a replay of our 30-minute webinar here:

Curious About How Remote Service Could Help Your Team?

Learn How You Can Increase Customer Satisfaction and Reduce Costs with Remote Service.