The Business Case for Proximity for Efficient Ground Support Operations

Nov. 9, 2023
Ground support operations that utilize local sourcing of partners, especially for supplies like coatings, can stay ahead of issues and remain ready for takeoff.

In the face of escalating challenges such as rising shipping costs and unexpected delays, ground support operations — from tugs, pushback tractors, and deicing vehicles to luggage carts and fueling trucks — have increasingly prioritized sourcing supplies, particularly coatings, from local or nearby suppliers. Efficiency and cost-effectiveness remain imperatives for success.

Rising Global Shipping Costs

From pandemic-induced disruptions to recent geopolitical tensions, various factors from the past few years have increased shipping costs. For ground support operations, sourcing supplies from distant locations is no longer as cost-effective. Given that ground support equipment requires timely maintenance and the application of specialized coatings to ensure longevity and performance, delays in the supply chain for these coatings will create more downtime costs.

Build Supply Chain Resiliency

By choosing to source from nearby or local suppliers, ground support operations can realize multiple benefits, including faster access to essential supplies, reduced costs and enhanced supplier partnerships. Delays in receiving crucial materials or equipment can lead to operational backlogs.

Sourcing from nearby suppliers minimizes the reliance on long, unpredictable shipping routes. This can be especially valuable during sudden demand spikes or unforeseen equipment failures. Having a local supplier means replenishments can be received in hours rather than days or weeks.

Local sourcing often means lower transportation costs and fewer logistical headaches, leading to savings. Furthermore, shorter transportation routes mean fewer carbon emissions, aligning with the aviation industry's increasing emphasis on sustainability.

Find the Right Partner

Proximity often leads to stronger relationships between suppliers and buyers. Being in the same region or time zone facilitates communication and understanding. Over time, this can result in better deals, faster response times to issues, and a deeper understanding of each party's needs and capabilities. For example, PPG has local experts who can visit and work with all customer locations to offer the right solutions, including a personalized inventory management program ensuring timely deliveries from local service centers and authorized distributors to ensure steady operations.

What’s Ahead?

The recent global events have underscored the vulnerabilities in extended supply chains. Relying on distant suppliers can expose operations to geopolitical upheavals, trade disputes or global health crises. Local sourcing acts as a buffer, ensuring that external global disruptions have a minimal impact on the day-to-day functioning of ground support operations.

A global partner with local distribution and service can provide local on-ground technical support, training and assessments, ensuring that the coatings – from electrocoats and pretreatment to liquid coatings and powder coatings – are applied effectively and yield the desired results.

Ground support operations that recognize the business benefits of locally sourcing quality partners, especially for crucial supplies like coatings, will likely stay ahead of these issues and remain ready for takeoff.

Mike Fromm has 37 years of experience in the paint and coatings industry. To learn more about how PPG meets the aviation industry's needs, visit 

About the Author

Mike Fromm

Mike Fromm has 37 years of experience in the paint and coatings industry.