aircraft supply chain

Why Are Expendables And Consumables So Hard To Manage?

Why Are Expendables And Consumables So Hard To Manage?

The email hits your inbox. 

You glance at the subject line and it reads “Need ASAP for XTY-123.” 

Maintenance is requesting material for this week’s project.

You anxiously open the document. 

It’s expendable and consumable material: 

  • 85 bolts
  • 950 pins
  • 247 o'rings
  • 5 switches
  • 6 quarts of sealant
  • An occasional rotable

The request is 100 line items. 

Some items you’ve never purchased, while others are high volume for you but your inventory level does not meet this maintenance need. 

And it’s not that you haven’t done this before. 

It’s just damn difficult. 


Ask an Expert: How to Manage Your Supply Chain Efficiently with Ryan Coyne, U.S. Air Force Chief Logistics Operations


The time has come where we "Ask an Expert" questions that you all have been eager to have answered. We interviewed Ryan Coyne who is the Chief of Logistics Operations for the United States Air Force. To put it simply, he’s no joke. With a $17.5 billion dollar supply chain under his belt, we would say he knows a thing or two about managing supply chain & logistics.

Ryan leads a team of 25 who span supply chain, transportation, planning and QA professionals. If that wasn’t enough, he oversees sustainment solutions for 4500 aircraft and 1.8 million vehicles and equipment assets all over the world.

Without any more hesitation, let’s see what this supply champ has got to say.

The discussion begins at 3:03 with Ryan sharing his responsibilities as the core logistics readiness officer and we quickly learn that he has been involved in supply chain for about 19½ years. That's almost 2 decades of knowing all there is to know about supply chain.

Ryan explains to us that although his team moves parts around the world they deal more with the end user. Due to the fact that he deals with maintenance group providers to even customer complaints, Ryan considers his work on the retail side of things.

Efficiency in your Supply Chain

We asked Ryan how he stays organized with such volume and at 10:02 he explains the organization of his wing and compares the ease of their system to Amazon. Below him is a wing of 25 staffers that work with 3 major commodities, which are aircraft parts, petroleum, and equipment items & parts for vehicles.  

[Tweet "Effective communication is crucial to a successful supply chain"]

His staff of 25 has 3 groups below them of 100-200 folks a piece. Each team has a different role or specialty.

From their $17.5 billion dollar supply chain, $8-9 billion alone comes from aircraft parts. Ryan and his wing goes through about 5½ million customer transactions a month. That's more transactions than most companies receive in a year.

Ryan stresses the importance of taking advantage of demand patterns. Due to the fact that his wing can move inventory back and forth they skip the step of asking retail teams and do it themselves.

At 14:03 Ryan shares with us the importance of communication within his team and how having an enterprise view of their supply chain has worked for them.

Leadership & Motivation


Lastly we discussed with Ryan what he believes makes a good leader. At 20:49 Ryan shares that he looked to his coaches back in high school for leadership skills.

"I've never given an order in my entire career and I've been a commander 3 times. You know it's more of a collaboration, a coaching effort, constant huddles, making sure we have a consensus before we move forward." - Ryan Coyne  

Ryan believes that if you aren't leading by coaching and collaborating then you will lose trust and your staff will do things because they have to and not because they want to. 

He then goes on to explain that a leader must give people a chance to learn new skills, treat their staff calmly, with dignity, and look out for them.

At 26:45 Ryan adds that when it comes to motivating the younger generations a good leader must ask a lot of questions leading them to getting the right answer. This way they learn on their own and their time is protected.

In his line of work they don't receive bonuses but as a leader when you give associates back time, that's a bonus worth gold.

Why No One Is Listening To You


How does it feel, being ignored? You pick up the phone and get voicemail. You email and get no reply back. You text only to be ignored. In the world of fast paced jets, communication moves at the speed of idle dirt. Dealing with aircraft maintenance supply chain partners is a chore.

No One ListeningIt's like babysitting a child that doesn't listen.

Nowadays, we have social communication mediums like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, and the ancient phone, text and email. Yet, listening and communication skills are at an all time low. It's a mind numbing epidemic.

So why are people not listening to you? Why does it seem like nobody cares?

It's Not A You Problem, It's a Who Problem

When supply chain partners don't actively engage you in a conversation, it's not a you problem, it's a who problem.

It's very common to have a need and to have to pull teeth to work through a problem and find a solution. The person you should be relying on most is out to lunch with their phone turned off. They say "I-care-a-lot-about-you" but actions speak louder than words.

I'll give you a quick checklist to identify the who problem:

  • They don't reply to your email for hours
  • You don't have a cell phone number for them
  • You leave voicemails and they never return your call
  • You leave voicemails and it takes days to get a call back
  • They don't accept your social media requests so you can build trust a rapport with them
  • They are hard to find on the internet
  • You have no way to text them
  • They're never on Skype
  • They don't have Whatsapp
  • You can't call them after hours or on the weekends
  • Every time you talk to them it always sounds like they have something more important to do

This is why we have 24/7 dedicated Account Managers.

You can contact them personally any time you want. People who we can create the greatest value for and who benefits from our solutions has entire access to their Account Manager. It's about creating a "WOW" experience.

When you're not being heard and you identify it's a who problem, look at your options and figure out another way.

The Downfall of Demands

Another big issue it the constant pressure of demands, it could be you doing the demanding or the other party.

Constant demands will have the other party running. Communicating and listening together is entirely different.

Here's a great example. We had a new customer contact us and every time we engaged them in a solution for their rotable RFQ needs, they would demand a "cheaper" price. It was never good enough and pretty soon we became disengaged. With the prices we were quoting they got 100% logistical support, 24/7 access to a dedicated Account Manager and unparalleled service.

They know that they can trust us and we do as we say. There's no having to babysit us. In this particular situation it was a matter of $100 that they demanded we come down to. It was a constant demand of lowering prices and a constant demand of shipping things faster than agreed upon.

Every time we worked with this client it was a demand. It was never collaborative.

Are demands sometime necessary? Yes, of course, but doing more demanding and less communication and collaborating gets most people nowhere.

Listening is much more productive than talking and it's a critical flaw in a lot of supply chain partners communication style. Know the who and watch out for the constant demands.

Do you feel like your constantly ignored? Do your supply chain partners have a listening problem? Well fear no more my friend. Fill out the form below and let's show you how good listening skills is done.