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Maintenance

Pack and go

Pattonair has developed a transport container that can be stocked to meet various support requirements in the field
 

Pattonair is a specialist in the distribution of C class parts – small but vital components such as bearings, electronic and electrical components, fasteners, seals and clamps, filters, latches and springs. They are often used in large quantities in airframes and engines and, while their value is relatively low, the supply chain still needs to be managed properly.

 

The company has years of experience in this area, supplying production lines, running warehouses and developing kitting services, says Jim Smith, MRO Services Director, and this has now been combined to offer Agile Warehouse, a self-contained kit of parts tailored to meet the user’s exact requirement or operational environment. These could include off site engine repairs at a diversion airfield, an AOG or on-wing repair somewhere on an airline’s network or at an MRO, engine development testing at remote test site, or a production line.

 

The Agile Warehouse is a highly compartmentalised metal box, mounted on wheels for easy movement and sturdy enough to cope with multimodal transport while keeping the contents protected and secure. It can be directly loaded by forklift and has an inbuilt payload lift system that is compatible with the rear internal crane of the Antonov AN-124, which, in the case of offsite repairs, is often chartered to move large turbofan engines. This was successfully demonstrated earlier this year at East Midlands Airport in the UK, close to Pattonair’s headquarters at Derby, as well as to major customer Rolls-Royce. The Boeing 777 Freighter is another popular charter option and another trial was completed at Prestwick Airport in Scotland. In this way, it can be deployed alongside the replacement engine, so arriving on site simultaneously, and can be returned with the failed engine or by independent transport.

 

The ergonomic design includes features such as 100% extension drawer slides that allow complete access to contents and a lock-in feature to secure them during transportation. High security options include an anti-tamper and electronic security lock to prevent access by unauthorised personnel.

 

As well as components, there is room for tooling and personal protection equipment for some applications. Connectivity can provide an on board intelligent inventory management system or global asset visibility via built-in global tracking systems. This provides automated replenishment and stock reporting, full user-transaction history and complete control over access to inventory. If there is a manual process, consumption is checked when the unit is returned to Pattonair and the customer is billed accordingly.

 

For engine MROs, there may be a sudden change in customer requirements – perhaps a decision to carry out a full overhaul after inspection highlighted problems. The company’s ERP may not be able to cope with a sudden large order, whereas Pattonair can use its experience of previous events to prepare a package of its components. Much of this is derived from the company’s Akrivis tool, which uses intelligent inventory management and intelligent forecasting and planning to produce previous consumption trends.

 

For engine testing, Smith says the company generally has close links to the development team and so has plenty of advance notice of the requirements. However, there are still challenges when it comes to cold weather testing in sub-Arctic conditions, in, for example, Thompson, Manitoba. He also notes that non-standard components may be used in testing and sometimes these are not fully documented.

 

For a production line, an injection of components can keep things running if there is an interruption in the supply chain.

 

He notes that there is often an element of overstocking of some items, again based on previous experience, to take account of accidental damage or loss – there is no point in getting Agile Warehouse to a remote location to have the job grind to a halt for want of a small part. The consumption-based accounting process means there is no extra cost to the customer.

 

The company is also nearing completion of the development of a significantly more automated version, which will be less mobile.


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