Are your repair turn-around-times (TAT) a mess?

They’re a headache.

Believe it or not. You’re not alone. The problem remains the same for everyone. Whether you’re a large airline or a small aircraft MRO. You feel the pain. 

5 Painful Repair Time Issues And Fail-Proof Ways To Fix It

5 Painful Repair Time Issues And Fail-Proof Ways To Fix It

We recently spoke with The VP of Maintenance at Japan Airlines and he mentioned the same issue. He’s frustrated. Even with the contracts that he has in place, working with the largest OEMs and MROs, repair lead times and quality are a constant frustration.

COMMON ROTABLE CYCLE TIME ISSUES

A lot of effort goes into reducing MRO lead times.  And although that’s a big pain by itself, it’s not the best place to start fixing the problem.

Longer lead time problems can be reduced from inside your operation...

Central supply / stores

When an unserviceable unit is identified it's removed from the aircraft and replaced.

Once this happens the unit that was pulled from stores (depending on your material stocking strategy) needs to be replaced and the unserviceable unit needs to be brought back to serviceable condition. 

The process of removing the unserviceable asset from the aircraft to getting it to stores can take days, sometimes weeks. 

People within this process get pulled into other tasks, forget, and leave the removed asset idle for too long. 

Think about it in your operation. Once an unserviceable aircraft part is removed, how long does it take to return it back into stores for repair allocation? 

Staging

Deciding what MRO to send the repair to and processing Repair Orders are areas that have a ton of wasteful processing time. 

You’ll then need to prepare your asset for transit. If processes like boxing, crating and foaming, are not done right they can lengthen the process and also increase the risk of asset safety while in transit.

This area doesn't get much attention but it has the potential to save hours of internal productivity time.

During staging the critical question to ask yourself is how long does it take to pull the unit from stores to having it ready for outbound logistics?

Outbound logistics

Transit time is often a hot topic for two reasons, the amount of time it takes to get to the destination and cost.

It’s a balance of how fast to ship and how much to spend. 

We receive pallets of material for repair every day. There are times when freight forwarders will quote you door to airport delivery.

Once it get's to us we then have to clear it through customs and deal with other third parties to get it delivered. We've even had one freight forwarder hold the pallets for an additional 7 days without contacting us. Upfront the price looks attractive but it kills your repair lead times.

Lack of communication makes transit times longer than they need to be.

Make sure your logistical strategy is clear upfront.

Work In Progress (WIP)

During this stage, it's the responsibility of your repair partner to get the unit completed in the shortest amount of time.

Unfortunately, there's still a lot of processing delays on both ends.

When a unit is quoted it should be approved or denied in the shortest amount of time. Waiting days and even weeks significantly increases your cycle time and risk of a stock outage.

The critical question for the WIP stage is how can you reduce your approval or denials to only a few hours instead of a few days?

Inbound Logistics and Receiving

Deciding the best route to get your assets back to you is important. 

Most repairs don’t have a thought out repair plan or know how critical and non-critical items will be shipped. 

When you receive the now serviceable asset, does it typically sit ideal on the receiving shelf for days? How long does it take your QC team to push it through your incoming inspection?

Some airlines have everything shipped to one central location. This then requires another shipment to outstation locations. Redundant activities add complexity to the returned asset supply chain, lengthening your rotable cycle time.

How can you streamline and systemically script out your incoming repair plan? 

HERE'S SOME FOOL-PROOF WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR AIRCRAFT ROTABLE CYCLE TIMES

Many airlines put a lot of effort into reducing repair times to improve asset performance.

For the average airline, every time they're able to cut a day from their cycle time it amounts to $1M in inventory shed from the balance sheet.

The problem is you put all of your attention on one portion of your end-to-end cycle time. When you strictly focus on repair TAT you forget about the importance of central stores processing, removal, staging, outbound logistics, inbound logistics and receiving and inspection.

We had a customer who sent us 20 assets for repair. By the time they coordinated everything on their end, 14 days had already passed before we even got the units. Of course, repair TAT is important, but those are 14 days we're not getting back.

Each stage has the potential to cut down a day off your rotable cycle time.

Here's some ideas:

  • If you have excess inventory you may need repaired in the future, ship it to your repair partner and have them hold the inventory for future repairs. This will eliminate the time need for stores, staging and outbound logistics.
  • Streamline the process of removing the asset from your aircraft and getting it to your store's team. Can you automate this?
  • Make sure you have the proper shipping material to ship assets properly, efficiently, and safely. 
  • Know your transit times before you commit to a repair. Study both your outbound logistical options and inbound logistical options. And then think about how you’ll ship if there’s a delay. 
  • Build a relationship with a freight forwarder, one that knows your needs inside and out.
  • Make quick decisions during the repair process.
  • Ruthlessly evaluate and monitor your repair partners. Note areas in your own process to improve lead times. 

Focusing on the areas in which you can control your aircraft rotable cycle times will profoundly affect how long repairs take. Make a valiant effort to cut your times in half at every stage.