Unrivaled Accuracy: RGIS Pilots Inventory Program for UK CH-47 Chinook
RGIS, the global leader of inventory services, was challenged by Boeing, the world’s leader in aerospace to develop an inventory program for the Chinook helicopters of the Royal Air Force (RAF) in Great Britain. Boeing needed to validate the number and associated value of the in-stock parts. Before selecting RGIS to handle the project, Boeing searched for a third-party inventory company and considered proposals from ten suppliers. After presenting bids and methodology presentations, RGIS was awarded this prestigious contract. RGIS was selected for a number of reasons, including:
- Excellent track record in accurate and consistent data-gathering techniques across multiple sites
- Proven scheduling flexibility
- Effectiveness in working with multiple project partners
- Employee integrity
- Efficient project coordination and data reconciliation abilities
At the end of the inventory process, Boeing, the RAF, and the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) used the data collected and validated by RGIS to negotiate the transfer of the Chinook Helicopter parts from the RAF to Boeing. RGIS provided an inventory program that helped Boeing reduce their costs and improve their processes.
In May of 2006, Boeing formally commenced work on the “Through Life Customer Support” programme for the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) fleet of Chinook helicopters. Boeing had previously manufactured and sold the Chinook helicopters and parts to the RAF. Prior to the awarding of this maintenance contract to Boeing, the RAF maintained these helicopters in-house and managed the tracking of parts in stock with two inventory systems. As part of the new maintenance agreement, Boeing was required to “buy back” the estimated £250,000,000 in Chinook helicopter parts stored in RAF and Defence Aviation Repair Agency (DARA) installations in the U.K. and around the world. The value of the parts varies from a few pence to over £1,000,000 per item. The parts are located on RAF/MOD installations in the U.K. and around the world, including some operational zones such as Afghanistan, Iraq and the Falkland Islands. Since the RAF held the parts stock information on two different systems, the information had to be viewed separately, consolidated, and then reported globally back to Boeing and the MOD. Also, parts in stock are assigned a designated location within a base, and for security reasons, an individual stock item may have several locations within a base. This meant there was no central view of which parts were at which base, or at what location(s) on a base a part was stored.
As part of the agreement, Boeing is required to keep a certain number of Chinook helicopters in service at all times. High levels of unavailable parts could impact Boeing’s ability to repair the aircraft in a timely manner. Therefore, in addition to validating the number of parts in stock and the value of the part holdings, Boeing had to validate the availability and condition of the parts needed to maintain the helicopters. Over a three-week period, RGIS was to work with Boeing, RAF/MOD, DARA, and civilian staff to reconcile data across multiple sites worldwide. The majority of the helicopters were in operational zones, specifically Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Falkland Islands. As part of the inventory verification process, no aircraft repair or maintenance work would stop. Transporting parts from one location to another to facilitate a repair could not be delayed because of inventory audits. RGIS personnel were responsible for capturing and reconciling the data on five bases in the United Kingdom. Boeing and RAF personnel gathered the information from the operational bases around the world and submitted the data to RGIS for inclusion in the final reconciliation of the global view. Throughout this period, Boeing and the RAF needed to see fully reconciled stock information twice a day.
RGIS staff members worked with Boeing, RAF/MOD, and DARA to complete this project. RGIS provided auditors along with managers and operations support personnel. Working across five U.K. bases, RGIS gathered data for the aircraft inventory and collected data provided by the RAF and Boeing from other bases worldwide to complete a global inventory view.
The RGIS Process Pre-Inventory:
Security clearance for RGIS personnel was established to gain entrance to sensitive military locations. RGIS worked with Boeing in a tight schedule window, to accomplish the inventory in one week less than was initially required. Scheduling challenges included the following:
- The very limited availability of RAF/MOD and DARA staff, who were required to assist with locating and opening some parts containers
- The requirement that the same part had to be counted in all locations around the world at one time
- Part counting had to be completed in a specified four-hour window or else that count would be invalidated in other locations. RGIS created a custom inventory programme to facilitate the many and varied streams of information that were required
The RGIS Process Inventory:
RGIS captured and reconciled the data at the five U.K. bases. RAF/MOD personnel gathered the information from the other bases around the world and submitted it to RGIS for including in the final reconciliation. As part of the project, parts were categorized according to class and condition and whether the item was removed from an aircraft for repair. Counts were compared to the quantities on record in the RAF databases and variance reports were generated in real time. Items showing discrepancies were recounted. Fully reconciled data had to be made available twice daily. The RAF/MOD monitored the execution of the agreed-upon process across all sites.
The RGIS Process Post-Inventory:
RGIS provided Boeing with a consolidated file showing the global position of each parts line captured compared to the quantity expected at the time the item was counted. Interim reports and final information were provided on the secure Boeing website for ease of access by those with permission to view the data. As a result of the project, Boeing and the MOD were able to obtain an accurate inventory count, so that they could more readily identify where they would have an urgent and immediate need for parts.
RGIS provided an accurate, reliable and efficient inventory resulting in improved product availability and process improvements for the future. Since completion of this project, RGIS has applied to become a member of the Defence Manufacturers Association—a group of approved suppliers to the defence sector. As the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence embarks on a policy of outsourcing aircraft maintenance contracts, RGIS is well positioned to support successful contract bidders.
All RGIS staff have been motivated in achieving the “customer’s goal”. From management to the IT Department, assistance and support has always been available and readily provided when requested. During both the planning and execution phases, the company has been forthcoming with advice and recommendations to overcome potential issues…