EBACE Convention News

Frankfurt super-warehouse paying off for Bombardier

 - November 29, 2006, 10:55 AM

Bombardier Aerospace (Booth No. 1300) is gradually building parts inventory levels at its new super-warehouse near Germany’s Frankfurt Airport and is already beating its own performance targets at the facility, which opened last December. By the end of next month, the airframer expects to have some 25,000 individual parts on the shelves, a total that could grow to 40,000.

According to Desmond Bell, Bombardier’s vice president of parts logistics, the company is increasing the new parts inventory at a controlled rate to be sure that it does not compromise delivery performance. It is already achieving an on-time shipping rate of more than 99 percent (meaning that just about all available parts are leaving the warehouse within the target time).

In aircraft-on-the-ground situations, the Frankfurt team is achieving an average counter-to-counter delivery time of 9.9 hours (that is, from taking the order to getting the required part to the airport where the operator can collect it). Bombardier’s target was to do this in less than 12 hours (and less than 10 hours in the U.S.). In AIN’s 2005 Product Support Survey, readers rated Bombardier below other OEMs in AOG response, availability and cost of parts for most of its older and newer business jet models.

The 50,000-sq-ft Frankfurt warehouse serves operators of Bombardier’s business aircraft and regional airliners throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. For instance, almost 300 of the Canadian airframer’s executive jets are registered in Europe alone.

The Frankfurt facility receives parts from Bombardier’s other super-warehouse–the 238,000-sq-ft center in Chicago. The two warehouses are linked with the latest SAP inventory control system which automatically manages restocking. The software allows staff to check parts availability in real-time, as well as supporting the processing of rotable spares and conducting proactive performance monitoring.

The new parts distribution network has been developed in partnership with inventory management specialist Cat Logistics and freight forwarder Expeditors International. Bombardier staff handle direct relations with customers and supervise the supply chain and management of transportation, while their Cat colleagues process orders, monitor inventory accuracy, place and pick up spares from the shelves and prepare documentation. Spares are shipped from Frankfurt either via road (one of Germany’s main freeways is very close by) or by air.

Bombardier also has smaller spares depots in Russia, Dubai, China, Singapore and Australia, as well as a regional depot at its Montreal, Canada headquarters. It intends to open one in São Paulo, Brazil, and is now in the final stages of selecting a partner for that program. The company, whose total global parts inventory runs to some 120,000 items, is closing existing warehouses in London and Paris.

Bombardier’s wider aftermarket support network now uses the SAP system, including factory-owned service centers. Bell explained that the company is increasingly using the system to respond to “real future need” to help operators to have more efficient planned maintenance. The airframer has a parts forecasting team which analyzes past demand for parts, while also trying to project future demand taking into account anticipated changes, such as the introduction of new aircraft and the changing service needs of existing aircraft.

The spares team has also been focusing on how it can anticipate and overcome problems associated with more difficult shipments, such as those involving hazardous materials. It is in close dialog with Bombardier’s field service representatives to deal with obstacles to timely delivery, such as local traffic or customs problems. The company pre-clears European Union customs requirements for all parts coming in from Chicago so that they can then be immediately shipped to anywhere in the 25 EU states when they are needed.

“We’ve just had a meeting with business aviation and regional airline operators in Frankfurt and we got very positive feedback,” Bell told EBACE Convention News. “Parts supply is at the heart of our customer support operation; we must have maintenance capacity at all times.” Bombardier is sending out customer feedback forms with every delivery as a way of gathering valuable data on any issues arising.

Since Bombardier started a comprehensive parts supply improvement program in 2004, the overall off-the-shelf shipping rate has increased from 81 percent to more than 90 percent for business aircraft, and from 63 to 88 percent for regional aircraft. The accuracy of its inventory data has increased from 80 percent to more than 99 percent. Same day shipments have increased from just 50 percent to 98 percent.