Bombardier adds superwarehouse in Frankfurt

 - September 25, 2006, 11:54 AM

Canadian manufacturer Bombardier has the considerable task of supporting some 5,200 aircraft of many types, from vintage Series 20 Learjets to the latest Global Expresses, plus regional airliners and amphibian bombers. This involves more than 120,000 different spare parts that must be shipped on short notice to service centers around the world.

In 2004, Bombardier decided to improve parts distribution and appointed Desmond Bell vice president of parts logistics. Bell has since successfully set up a program to streamline worldwide parts distribution. The first step was to concentrate supplies at a 238,000-sq-ft-warehouse near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport to support North American operators.

Bombardier then added a European facility to speed up delivery of parts to aircraft operators around the world. To that end, the company opened a 50,000-sq-ft warehouse at Gross-Gerau near Frankfurt, Germany in December. The two facilities are the main elements of Bombardier’s new parts distribution network.

The European center will be responsible for a growing fleet of Bombardier aircraft–currently about 300 executive jets and 500 regional airliners–based in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Smaller spare depots are located in Russia, Dubai, China, Singapore and Australia. Another one will become operational early this year in São Paulo, Brazil.

The manufacturer’s original warehouse in Montreal remains in service as a regional depot. The existing warehouses in London and Paris will be closed.

Bombardier’s new parts distribution network was designed and implemented in close collaboration with Cat Logistics, a subsidiary of the Caterpillar group, which produces earth-moving and mining equipment. It originated from Caterpillar’s own parts supply department, built up since 1925, and was established as a profit center in 1987 in Morton, Ill.

One important ingredient of Bombardier’s new distribution network is software supplied by SAP of Waldorf, Germany, which provides complete real-time inventory visibility and supports rotable processing and proactive performance monitoring. The system is accessible by both Bombardier and Cat Logistics personnel.

Division of labor between the two partners provides that Bombardier staff will have contact with customers and supervise the supply chain and transportation management, while Cat Logistics tasks include order processing, monitoring inventory accuracy, placing and picking up spares in the shelves and preparing documents. Transportation is entrusted to Expeditors International and other freight forwarders.

Since the start of the program in 2004, Bombardier’s support has improved. The off-the-shelf shipping rate has increased from 81 to more than 90 percent for business aircraft, and from 63 to 88 percent for regional airliners, while inventory accuracy has improved from 80 to more than 99 percent.

Same-day shipments have increased from 50 to 98 percent and, most important, customer satisfaction has increased from 83 percent in April 2004 to 87 percent in June 2005. The final target is to reduce shipping time for AOG orders to less than 10 hours within the U.S. and less than 12 hours worldwide.