Michigan State University, in Association with Maine Pointe, says Pandemic has Illuminated Weaknesses in Aviation, Aerospace & Defense Supply Chain

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Uncovering decades long weaknesses, a new Maine Pointe/MSU paper reveals seven practical steps to solve the industry’s biggest endemic issues

Today’s supply chain is a system built on short-term actions, disparate collaboration techniques and poor visibility into the supply base. For top management, now is the time to recognize that buyer-supplier dynamics have changed – and to rethink what the supply chain needs to accomplish

Global supply chain and operations consulting firm Maine Pointe, in conjunction with Michigan State University, has released its new white paper, “Is today’s supply base terminally ill? Have you got a back-up plan?” The paper addresses the unprecedented challenges currently being faced by the aviation, aerospace & defense industry, and offers seven practical steps to overcome those challenges.

According to the white paper, pressure seen in both the commercial and defense aviation sectors is the result of a long-standing cost-down model, with the pandemic bringing out weaknesses that have been present for decades.

Industry challenges didn’t start with pandemic

While suppliers, OEMs, airlines and the DoD are all under unprecedented pressure to recover from the pandemic-driven losses and supply chain disruptions of 2020, the challenges didn’t start there. David Grasso, EVP for Aviation, Aerospace & Defense at Maine Pointe and co-author of the paper, says “the system has long been rife with inertia across the supply base and a cost-based supply chain model that is far too limiting. Today’s supply chain is a system built on short-term actions, disparate collaboration techniques and poor visibility into the supply base. For top management, now is the time to recognize that buyer-supplier dynamics have changed – and to rethink what the supply chain needs to accomplish.”

According to the white paper, the major root cause of the problem is not the suppliers, but rather, problems with collaboration, visibility and alignment. Visibility into sub-tiers by OEMs is often hindered by limited direct communication, with most companies lacking insight beyond their tier-one supply base. The result is a breakdown in availability, quality and sustainability. The authors highlight decades of short-term fixes getting in the way of a larger strategic shift, calling it “death by a thousand cuts.”

“As a result, the focus has begun to change from managing the first tier, to managing the entire supply chain, including suppliers and the second, third and fourth tiers,” said Steven Melnyk, PhD, professor of supply chain management at MSU and co-author of the paper. “Smaller downstream suppliers can significantly impact the ability of your system to deliver. To manage those smaller suppliers, you need to become a better customer. Often this involves taking a more proactive and innovative approach.”

Buyer-supplier dynamics have changed, and the supply model has to change with it

“We are at the tipping point of losing quality suppliers who will be very difficult to replace,” said Grasso. “Companies in aviation, aerospace and defense are increasingly reliant on not just their suppliers, but their suppliers’ suppliers as well. The good news is there is a way to solve these endemic supply chain issues.”

From examining strengths and weaknesses, to identifying gaps across the supply chain, the white paper outlines seven key steps that can be taken to solve the increasingly critical supply chain issues facing the industry.

“For the aviation, aerospace and defense industry to continue to innovate,” says Melnyk, “it needs to overcome resistance to change and have a new supply chain strategy going forward. Deeply entrenched problems have been hidden under the surface for years and are only now becoming visible. The time for a critical look at the supply chain and decisive action is now.”

Rethinking your supplier development strategy

“Addressing the needs of critical suppliers at the second, third and fourth tiers is always a win-win and will go a long way towards developing the visibility you need. In rethinking your supplier development strategy, Maine Pointe’s Supplier Performance Approach (SPA) offers a hybrid toolset that helps companies get consistent performance from the entire supply base without having to initiate costly, and often unsustainable, direct involvement with potentially thousands of downstream suppliers,” said Simon Knowles, Chief Marketing Officer of Maine Pointe and co-author of the paper.

SPA is based on Maine Pointe’s Supplier Risk Management, Supplier Performance Management, and Sourcing Optimization offerings. Maine Pointe’s solution to downstream visibility and collaboration also includes Supplier Sub Tier & Visibility (SSV), a hybrid offering based on Maine Pointe’s data analytics tools, TVO dashboards, and remote/offsite delivery services. “Other industries have found a way out of this situation. Consider the automotive industry; every year, the quality of supplier relationships is measured and reported back to the industry. The result? An 8.76% improvement in operating profit by the industry leaders,” said Knowles.

The complimentary white paper Is Today’s Supply Base Terminally Ill? is available to download here.

About Maine Pointe
Maine Pointe, a member of the SGS Group, is a global supply chain and operations consulting firm trusted by many chief executives and private equity firms to drive compelling economic returns for their companies. We achieve this by delivering accelerated, sustainable improvements in EBITDA, cash and growth across their procurement, logistics, operations and data analytics. Our hands-on implementation experts work with executives and their teams to rapidly break through functional silos and transform the plan-buy-make-move-fulfill digital supply chain to deliver the greatest value to customers and stakeholders at the lowest cost and risk to business. We call this Total Value Optimization (TVO)™.

Maine Pointe’s engagements are results-driven and deliver between 4:1-8:1 ROI. We are so confident in our work and our processes that we provide a unique 100% guarantee of engagement fees based on annualized savings. http://www.mainepointe.com

About SGS
SGS is the world's leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 89,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,600 offices and laboratories around the world.

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David Schutzman
@MainePointe
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