Bombardier plans major parts storage

 - December 13, 2006, 12:38 PM

Bombardier is redoubling efforts to improve customer service through a series of initiatives designed to address customer complaints. A major customer-support initiative now under way involves opening two “superwarehouses” to augment regular Bombardier warehouses and parts depots.

One is being opened in North America and another in Europe. Bombardier will christen the first such major warehouse, near Chicago O’Hare Airport, on June 27. Operated by Caterpillar Logistics, a supply chain management expert Bombardier has contracted with to expedite parts handling, the warehouse is expected to be fully operational in August. It will serve all of Bombardier Aerospace, including business jet and regional airline customers.

Phase two of the project involves opening a second superwarehouse, this one in Frankfurt, Germany. According to Bombardier, it will be a bonded warehouse, meaning that parts will clear customs as soon as they arrive and then be stored in a protected area.

This will allow Bombardier to ship the parts from the warehouse without having to clear customs a second time. Caterpillar Logistics will maintain this warehouse as well.

David Orcutt, vice president for customer support for Bombardier, said the improvements the company has started to make should yield significantly better in parts fill rates. Early initiatives Bombardier began instituting about eight months ago have already yielded results, Orcutt said. For example, he said, AOG (aircraft on ground) response rates have been reduced from six hours to two.

Orcutt added that many of the changes Bombardier has made are based on common-sense logic. For instance, when a customer is in danger of missing a trip because of a maintenance issue, front-line personnel are now authorized to do whatever they feel needs to be done to remedy the situation.

In the past, Orcutt explained, there were layers of protocol that had to be followed by maintenance personnel, with field representatives being required to obtain specific permission to take certain actions. That often led to repair delays and unhappy customers.

The company plans to open a parts depot in Brazil, with a decision about the location for the facility expected by the end of the year. Bombardier is also looking for a partner to open an AOG line station in Russia, most likely outside Moscow. The aircraft maker is also considering expanding its support capability to the Northwest U.S. and to China, Orcutt said.