Finding Ways to Reduce Costs

April 5, 2005
Seven Strategies For Ground Support Equipment

As we're all aware, in today's aviation industry, making money has a lot to do with saving it. Yet, it's not quite that simple. To enhance profits and in some cases just to remain viable airlines, freight companies, ground handling companies, GSE maintenance facilities and other aviation-related businesses must seek and find smart, innovative ways to reduce costs--and they must do so without compromising operational capabilities. In terms of ground support equipment specifically, cost reductions along with operational enhancements can be achieved through a number of approaches.

To follow are seven strategies:

1.Choose GSE replacement parts wisely.

Cost efficiencies go hand-in-hand with selecting the right parts for the exact equipment you have, something that sounds obvious but is often overlooked. The parts must be high quality to perform continuously under the demands of a busy airport ramp, delivering dependable value in the long run. A knowledgeable supplier can provide the correct parts or upgrades as well as offer installation advice that can save you time. Another consideration is the use of alternative choices of GSE parts that deliver equal or better performance but at a much lower unit cost--effectively lowering total cost of ownership.

2.Streamline/consolidate parts procurement.

Dealing with many different parts suppliers can negatively affect profitability. By purchasing GSE replacement parts from a single supplier who can offer all the parts you need--both GSE-specific and automotive-- several cost-effective advantages can be gained. These include: reductions in the amount of transactions needed which in turn reduces administrative costs; less time and money spent making sense of dissimilar product specs from different suppliers; parts/brand standardization and the ability of a supplier who maintains a large inventory to offer parts for virtually any make or model of GSE, even equipment that has long been out of production.

3.Extend useful life of GSE with specialized preventative maintenance.

As everyone knows, GSE downtime is lost time. The bottom line is all about increasing the effective serviceability of ground support equipment. Lifetime extension programs, which may be available from your parts supplier, can identify GSE failure rates and causes. Such programs can also include recommendations for timely replacement of mission critical components, ultimately optimizing capital investments in GSE.

4. Lower the costs of freight, provide immediate parts availability.

Shipping GSE replacement parts from point A to point B can be extremely expensive and time consuming. By consolidating parts procurement as mentioned above, freight costs can be reduced significantly. Something else to consider is whether or not your parts supplier has warehousing/shipping locations that are close to where your operation is. With onsite/airport parts supply, the GSE replacement parts you require will be readily available without the need for high-cost freight. What?s more, those very expensive "11th hour" emergency parts shipments will be decreased or even eliminated. Hours of operation are important to consider too. Your parts supplier should be available during your hours of operation and not theirs.

5.Reduce GSE parts inventory expenses.

The costs associated with a GSE parts inventory can be more than 25 percent of the value of the inventory itself. Your parts supplier may offer "inventory ownership" of GSE replacement parts, literally meaning that they--not you-- own the inventory. This will substantially reduce expenses on several levels, including lowering the cost of financing, insurance, taxes, inventory control, warehousing, handling, obsolescence, damage and shrinkage. Another option is to have your GSE parts vendor manage your inventory for you, reducing your capital investment and carry costs as well as minimizing obsolescence and the expensive possibility of excess inventories.

6.Implement process control improvements and storeroom re-organization.

Take a good look at your GSE operation and you'll likely uncover savings based on the ways in which your processes work and also how you store your replacement parts. Among the specific areas to concentrate on are: improving the fill rates of your GSE parts orders; making sure that the stocking levels in your parts storeroom match the requirements of your current equipment fleet, not the fleet that has been retired or relocated and also ensuring that the staffing in your storeroom is optimal for your individual GSE operation.

7.Enhance training of GSE maintenance personnel.

As a result of many early retirement incentives, much of the GSE knowledge base has been depleted. More so than ever, with proper training, huge gains in productivity, and reductions in potential costs, can be realized. In particular, maintenance technicians (and operators as well) must know how to troubleshoot possible problems and recognize what could become an expensive breakdown before it happens. Personnel should also be expertly trained in identifying and replacing GSE parts with the specific goal of keeping equipment running in peak condition longer while also reducing the possibilities for future GSE failures.