Why do aircraft parts arrive too late?
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Many of us managers in MRO are familiar with the syndrome of late delivery of parts or material required to complete the maintenance repair work. Have you ever analyzed why there is always a significant number of such parts in a maintenance visit? Whatever reason you have determined as the source of the problem, I must tell you upfront it’s not because of the time spent to find a part and it's not because of the time it takes to ship the part (unless you are in a remote location such as the North Pole).
It is all about the environment the working teams experience
When your technician teams are working in a Multitasking environment, they will stop many tasks without completing them. This will happen either due to the pressure on them to do other tasks as well (multitasking) or due to lack of tools or parts or instructions or manpower etc., that force them to abandon their current task and move to work on another task. In the category of incompletion falls also the timely ordering of parts, or the timely request for Engineering Instructions. As teams move to another task their ability to follow up the abandoned task is limited. Eventually they will discover that when they need to complete their task they do not have the relevant kit. Then starts the cycle of getting parts under time pressure…. now you need the approval of the customer representative, then you need to negotiate a price and shipping by a purchasing agent, who is also under multitasking and therefore unable to do the purchase immediately… and, of course, you cannot complete the final assembly and that holds redelivery to customer! and, starts a vicious circle that, eventually, may hurt the next scheduled job.
Some of us are making sure the logistic side will be even shorter and simpler, by signing into consignment agreements or into parts pools. These solutions are usually costly and they do not prove to be perfect. In a multi projects environment that creates a large variability the ability to forecast parts demand is next to impossible.
The above description is a light version of mishaps we commonly encounter in MRO business. The complex life of the maintenance manager is much more complicated due to the large variety of events they encounter daily which include last moment changes by customer for work scope, lack of critical resources, rework (directly derived from the above described multitasking environment), work load fluctuation etc.
Whatever is your current system to ensure parts availability to your MRO operation, you need to understand that what takes time is the identification of the need of the part or the relevant material. From the Inspection action through the repair definition with or without Engineering and then deriving the identification of a specific part. This is part of the internal processes and if we are in a multitasking environment they are being most commonly postponed! This is the core problem that drives the delay in the part arrival!
The multitasking syndrome is a result of behavioral paradigms and it can be removed. To remove it we need to set a different set of processes and use different tools to monitor our operation.
CEO of Progressive MRO
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