The Painful Material Lessons of a Growing Fleet

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 Is your fleet growing? Do you feel prepared?

Scrambling to resolve AOGs, running out of money, and not having enough time to do everything are clear signs, you're having growing pains.

It's those pains you feel deep in your chest. Like a 2-ton brick pressing down on your core.

On one hand, it's great your fleet is growing. On another, it's causing you tension. I like to think of as a puzzle. You need to scope the landscape and then begin laying down your puzzle pieces.

Your operation identified a lucrative route, new aircraft to service the need, but everything else must fall in place. Neglecting this, the 2-ton brick will get heavier.

The Painful Material Lessons Of A Growing Fleet

Just imagine. It's 3 pm on a Friday and you have 3 beautiful additions to your fleet. They're 2 weeks old. The same type of aircraft. They’ve just joined your steel family.

They're flying high. Passengers are happy. Cargo is safe. Everything looks great. Until...

You need a CSD, a cone bolt, or even grease. But when you request it from stores, you have nothing in stock. Why?

Because you planned your material needs based on your old fleet. Material needs for 2 aircrafts are far different than material needs for 5.

Not having what you need is a costly proposition

We see this all too often. A fleet has grown, but operationally, the material strategy and team haven’t. So you're left with less material coverage and more demand needed per team member.

This causes tension, burnout, and AOGs.

Not planning your material needs as your fleet grows, you'll be scrambling, daily, rushing to resolve AOGs, and cause tension on your team.

This all adds cost to your operation.

And that leads me to...

Having too little operational and support staff

Sure. You have an awesome team. And hiring and training is painful. I get both. But the demands of a growing fleet is going to outgrow your team.

They must grow with your fleet.

Now, that doesn't mean you have to go on a rampid hiring spree, that's costly. There's a number of ways you can resolve this.

Here's my top two:

1. Outsource

Outsourcing get's a bad name. But if done right it's a huge advantage to your operation. The first critical piece is what to outsource and to whom to outsource to.

If you outsource parts of material planning, sourcing, processing, and chasing, it'll free you and your team to do higher level activities.

Maybe work on a Vendor Managed Inventory proposal. Spending more time resolving an AOG. Updating your material planning. Training a new team member. You get my point.

Outsourcing can be a big relief.

And let me just dispel a myth.

When you outsource, you don't spend more money. You need the material regardless. It's a great strategy to reduce total material costs.


Now, I caution you, you must choose the right partners.

2. Automate

Yes. Automate. But this doesn't mean get rid of jobs. Automate simply means making recurring tasks more productive. Just think. Let's say you have 1,000 parts you consume regularly, every year.

Automate this.

You then don’t have to source and process every material requirement. The material ships to you according to your minimum stock level parameters.

This will give you and your team to focus on the ad-hoc material, AOGs, or other strategic initiatives.

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Overspending on unnecessary inventory or not having enough


It's your best friend or worst enemy. On one hand, you'll have what you need when you need it, and on the other hand, it eats money.

Inventory is a money pit.

It costs money to acquire and hold. And it becomes even worse if you never use it. Yes, that happens more often than you’d like to admit.

When you procure inventory, spend time on material planning. Bring in a partner. Do not overspend on unnecessary inventory. Keep the money.

And that leads me to the counter argument. Every Superman needs a villain. Right?

If you don't plan and don't automate, pool, or stock, you're going to expose critical items and then become AOG. And as you know, AOGs are an expensive lesson.

When you plan your material, decide on what should be stocked and what can be outsourced. Reduce your risk in all areas.

Not working with a trusted material advisor

You may find yourself always scrambling to source, process, chase and trace the material you need. But it doesn't have to be that way.

There's no need to have 50+ "suppliers" on your email list. This is unproductive and often, they're quoting you without your best interests.

This leads to resolving issues, increases material costs, and added stress.

Really think of who your ideal partner is. What can they do for you? How can they help you reduce your total material costs? How can they help you be more productive?

Once you've identified the key characteristics, begin reviweing who's on your list now and narrow it down.

Make those 5 people, your trusted material advisers. This will be HUGE for your operation. I know it sounds scary, but believe me, it'll impact you and your operation.

As you grow, so should your material and maintenance strategy. You can avoid these pains.

Just be prepared.

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