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How to manage aerospace logistics, supply chains and transports

When speed and reliability are essential, you need to work with a trusted logistics provider who can make the difference between on-time delivery and failure to meet contract terms.

Logistical challenges in the aerospace supply chain usually concern cost, speed and reliability. Aerospace manufacturers, service providers and their suppliers source many different parts from all over the globe. Their major task is to ensure full, on-time delivery – whether for aircraft on ground (AOG) emergency maintenance, or for critical and routine operations.
 
When speed and reliability are essential, you need to work with a trusted logistics provider who can make the difference between on-time delivery and failure to meet contract terms. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a logistics provider and deciding how to manage your aerospace supply chain.
 

Logistical challenges in the aerospace industry

The aerospace industry has similar logistics needs to the automotive industry, yet there are striking differences.
 
Varied sectors: There are more varied sectors in the aerospace industry: airlines; maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), military and defence; original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), engine manufacturers and helicopter operators. With such a variety, there is a great need for specialised knowledge and experience in the respective logistics processes.
 
Size: The real difference is the size of components, spare parts and other – often sensitive – aerospace products, which can range from a whole wing to a part of a fuselage, or even to entire helicopters.
 
Reliability: Your choice of routes and transportation can dramatically affect schedules for both production and delivery. If you are manufacturing and supplying to order, this demands total reliability.
 
Visibility: Being able to track and trace consignments is vital. Both you and your logistics provider should have real-time visibility on the current status of your consignments. Recent developments in IT allow even greater transparency with real-time monitoring and stock coordination.
By integrating your own IT systems with those of your selected logistics provider, you can deliver inventory planning and load listing at warehouse locations and manufacturing plants. Another benefit is that you can measure performance against a set of KPIs.

Customised supply chain solutions

Tailored solutions: In aerospace, the ability to have tailored solutions is even more important than in other manufacturing and procurement industries. To meet deadlines and delivery schedules, you should have comprehensive online information systems and a warehouse management system (WMS) for global inventory visibility.
 
Location: Your location and those of your customers are vital to the planning of your supply chain. Manufacturing is often dictated by the availability of raw materials and a skilled workforce, but the location of your customers is also subject to similar demands.
Most aerospace manufacturers have plants scattered across the globe; they import spare parts and manufacture orders globally. Logistics companies can help monitor product manufacturing, safety protocols and efficiency.
Flexibility: Your supply chain has to be flexible – not only in terms of distance, but also location. Manufacturing on an industrial scale requires your products to be delivered and ready for use in a much shorter time scale.
Use the knowledge and experience of your logistics provider to select appropriate methods of transportation.
 Air freight is often the fastest, although speed may not be as important as monitoring stock and inventory, which can result in switching to other transport modes. Sea freight costs are competitive, and improvements in quality and safety over recent years make this a viable option.
 
Inventory management: One of the top pain points in the aerospace industry is inventory management. Manufacturers and aerospace suppliers work closely to ensure timely and scheduled delivery. Yet reliable forecasting of the demand for spare parts is difficult.
 
With challenges in planning, purchasing, ordering and logistics, your logistics provider can help by handling this directly with your customers and providing reporting and ordering functions through your own IT systems. Logistics companies have the expertise to deeply understand your business and supply processes, in order to enable just-in-time production and build-to-order deliveries.
In simple terms, the challenge in aerospace logistics is to get parts and materials to the correct places – where there is demand – in a timely manner to optimise production resources and minimise cost.

A checklist of solutions to expect from your aerospace logistics partner

 The aerospace industry thrives on reliability from its partners – manufacturers, suppliers and logistics companies. Success depends on a working partnership between all three groups. Logistics providers are an integral part of this. More than just a transport service, they are key to delivering material goods on time, on schedule and in perfect condition.
Your logistics provider should have time-definite multimodal services for critical and routine shipments. It should be able to provide tailored solutions customized to fit your logistical requirements and help you achieve maximum returns through that partnership.
 Here’s a checklist of what to look for:
  • A customised supply chain service tailored to your needs – no matter how big or small you are
  • An order execution system that allows late cut-off times and guarantees next-day for aircraft on ground (AOG) shipments
  • Delivery performance targets that are regularly met and have very low rates of damage: this requires skilled, experienced, industry-knowledgeable customer service teams in offices and warehouses
  • A partner that can take on every part of the supply chain as their responsibility and match it to your manufacturing, sourcing, supply and specifications
  • End-to-end supply chain management anywhere in the world
  • Intermodal freight services to combine the cost-saving benefits of sea freight with the time-saving benefits of air freight
  • Chartering on any given day with emergency services and 24-hour global servicing
  • Careful planning, damage prevention and cargo insurance
  • Reverse logistics including decommissioning
  • Efficient and sustainable transport
  • Customs clearance
Manage your aerospace logistics and keep it flying high. Talk to our industrial experts about your supply chain and transport needs.

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