Taking a collaborative approach to supply chain challenges

Supply chain | Nov 03, 2023 | By Satair | 5 min read

Why the example of the supersonic jet, and perhaps even the odd Hollywood movie, should inspire the industry to work together to solve their shared problems.

It’s like one of those meteorite impact movies in which every country’s working on its own plan. And then, halfway through the film, Ben Affleck, or somebody like him, gives a rousing speech urging every nation to get on the same page.

The results are instant. A shared problem, like the approaching meteorite, is one instantly smashed into smithereens. Greater collaboration, knowledge-sharing and learning help too. 

 

The aviation supply chain needs a similar approach to ride out its latest storm, according to the handful of experts who took the time to speak to the Satair Knowledge Hub at this year’s MRO Europe.

If the chain pulls together to solve the disruption issues currently blighting the industry, they could even 'return to normal', many agree – whatever counts for normal in these uncertain times.

Collaborate like we did on Concorde

Ivan Gonzalez Vallejo, Director Strategy and Supply Chain, Iberia didn’t cite ‘Armageddon’ as his inspiration for pulling the industry together, but rather the creation of Concorde – another mission that many wrote off as impossible: 

“I think the industry needs to come together like it did when we wanted to fly supersonic. A lot of bright people from different countries were put together to develop the Concorde. And that was a great achievement for humanity and for the industry. I think we need to do that today in a similar way.”

Geo-political complications are a huge challenge for the global supply chain, concurs Paul Lochab, CCO at Satair, and collaborations are key to overcoming them. 

“If we all work in isolation, it's not going to help the industry. Instead we require a lot of planning, conversations and partnerships.”

effective-inventory-management-02

Lochab’s stance was also shared by his colleagues Matt Jessee, Head of Business Development, who urged more transparency concerning data, and Daniela Serafina, VP of Customer Services, who urged more collaboration:

“Everyone tends to be looking at their own perimeter and profit and loss statement. But I think, more than ever, we need to collaborate to keep on growing the market.”

Learning from other industries

Collaboration enables the different players in the supply chain to not only overcome their challenges together but also to share knowledge and learn from one another. And collaborations need not be restricted to within the sector. 

The supply chain has much to learn from other, more fully-developed industries, contends Dimitry Los, Co-founder & CEO at Fourel Aviation Solutions. But while he is happy to see it is already making inroads, it needs to do a lot more:

“The aviation industry pools experience and solutions from all other niches in the world – like banking, ecommerce, MarTech and so on. But we need to start adopting earlier.”

Lochab identifies the automobile industry and Silicon Valley in California as two ideal learning grounds. 

The experience of other industries can help the supply chain overcome future challenges, believes Bjarke Ruse Sejersen, CEO and Founder at Go Autonomous.

“We are faced with a reality that other industries have seen for many years: that it's not just growth, it's like bumps on the way and so on, and that we need to do more with less.”

With the right conditions, the supply chain could ’return to normal’ by the first quarter of 2025, predicts Lochab.

Overcoming labour shortage problems

A full understanding of the challenges can help the supply chain overcome them, according to Dr Michael Winters, Principal Fellow Advanced Technology at Pratt & Whitney:

“Our industry is facing a perfect storm that it must learn from. On the one side, we have large new fleets with new engines and aircraft introduced into the market, learning their way towards better dependability. At the same time, we're coming out of COVID and the workforce is limited in capacity and hence the supply chain is limited in capacity.”

David Stewart, Partner at Oliver Wyman, concurs that both recruitment and retention are major challenges.

“There is a shortage of skilled labour wherever you are, whatever region you're in, to carry out the maintenance on the planes – for both the MROS and the airlines.”

This is why the supply chain needs to streamline, concludes Sejersen:

“Getting people to be more efficient, slimming down our cumbersome, handheld processes and thinking how can we digitise our processes – that is the key heading into the future."