In a trend we're seeing in more and more industrial markets, Thales has moved its aerospace support and distribution activity closer to its end customers. The moves resulted from abroad strategic review which found that fewer and fewer airlines were choosing to repair avionics systems because the total costs of stocking spares combined with test equipment, training and documentation is uneconomic unless the service provider achieved scale and logistics advantages.
Favorable to the OEM, the company also learned that most airlines preferred to subcontract their electronics maintenance to OEMs. This enabled Thales to develop offerings ranging from turnkey services, which include line maintenance at an airline's stations, to new logistics support for spares, repairs and replacements to individual spares or services.
Here's an example of the innovative distribution services that Thales has structured to create tangible value for its customers and partners:
- Repair, distribution, logistics support and "Integrated Supply Services", ranging from repair contracts based on flat-rate, cost-per-hour use to more comprehensive avionics-by-the-hour (ABTH), which includes replacement, repair, overhaul and guaranteed spares availability plus a line maintenance service.
- Repair parts stock has been moved to in-country facilities to support smaller airlines
- Repair operations have been moved to new regional repair facilities
- Set up a centralized center to provide specialist support for every fleet equipped with Thales products
- IT tools are being developed that can integrate with airline operations systems to track each aircraft's location or next destination on an hour-by-hour basis -- thereby providing the center with complete visibility of any IFE problem wherever it occurs.
- For fragmented product markets, such as helicopters, Thales is setting up network solutions with partner OEMs using Web portals.
- Developed an online data interchange to help airlines with their engineering and technical activities: for example, downloadable component maintenance manuals. Ultimately, creating a centralized portal for all services
- Joined together an OEM Services consortium with Diehl Aerospace, Liebherr Aerospace and Zodiac to provide component support on a cost-per-hour basis for a group of parts on major aircraft platforms with large global fleets
Creating tangible value through sophisticated, customer-driven distribution is an astute direction for Thales and one we expect to see players in other tough, global markets employing. An excellent go-to-market case study!