New trends in aircraft inventory management

It’s been quite a journey in the aviation market in recent decades. Nowadays there are different types of airlines: those which concentrate on service quality, entertainment and an unforgettable travelling experience; and low-cost airlines, which focus on the best possible prices, since searching for tickets online is now easier than ever. The number of passengers is rising as the global economy grows, which along with digitalisation and other consumer trends is rapidly changing the world of aviation – one in which airlines want to be flexible and have as little stock as possible by investing money in either service quality or cost effectiveness. So how do we go about achieving it?

First of all, new-model aircraft and the Internet of Things have come together with smart IT solutions and analysis tools to allow aircraft owners to predict future need for spare parts, meaning they no longer have to keep them in stock for long periods, at the same time freezing money. Furthermore, OEMs now also offer solutions where you get lengthy service agreements with the aircraft you purchase – in some cases 10 years or more – so new owners can concentrate solely on their core business of carrying passengers or delivering goods, leaving the rest up to the manufacturers. These trends also influence independent spare parts suppliers. In order to achieve long-term success, they need to evolve.

At present, two main trends are being observed. The first is offering complex solutions that cover not only spare part needs, but also full service, like the AOG line, logistics, inventory management, exchange or lease programmes and repairs in one place (e.g. power-by-the-hour contracts). The other option for suppliers is to concentrate on specific areas like avionics, landing gear or APUs and to offer programmes providing full solutions – and if this is not possible, then cooperating with other suppliers is an option. It is also vital for suppliers to invest in IT solutions so as to be able to manage inventories effectively, for example allowing customers to place quick orders online from anywhere in the world or enabling orders to be processed by automated AI systems. Another important aspect is preparing for future demand, where data are collected by observing the market and new orders for aircrafts, analysing historical data and upcoming SDs and ADs, cooperating with the customer’s CAMO engineers and so on. These data are then analysed using custom software solutions, machine learning or other global software tools that allow you to more accurately prepare to meet future customers’ needs.

We can also see that inventory management software solution companies (such as internationally known portals) are also investing a lot in easy online information-sharing between suppliers and that various ad-ons are now available to cover customers’ and suppliers’ needs. The magnetic MRO spares division offers full service packages for customers’ landing gear needs by organising everything from unit swaps during line or base maintenance to exchanges, flat rate exchanges, outright sales, repairs/overhauls, leases and other solutions. We also provide wide-ranging solutions for wheels, brakes, APUs, slides and – starting from 2018 –avionics, since with the help of our Chinese owners we now have full access to their huge capabilities in avionics testing, repairs, exchanges and more.

Furthermore, we have customers who use a mix of our services wherein we offer full repair management of any components they have or are ready to help with the other specific needs they have. To offer such solutions, which are based on customers’ current and future needs, we constantly invest in technology updates by improving our IT solutions: Qlik View and other custom-made online solutions for captured data analysis and future demand predictability, Quantum in tandem with Dynamics AX for quick inventory and trading management and custom-made solutions for online ordering.

To summarise, this is a truly exciting period – one in which the aviation industry is constantly changing and developing. IT solutions have become vital in cooperation between airlines and suppliers, and smart data management with the Internet of Things will take aviation to the next level and enable better services for every customer in the future.

Gintautas Gruodis
Head of Sales | Spare Parts | Magnetic MRO
Gintautas.Gruodis@magneticmro.com