As the business aviation charter market is struggling, its suppliers should adapt their operations to the current deteriorated market conditions. JetSupport, as an MRO, has recognized this market change early enough and has forced herself to developed internal business ‘safety nets’ to secure and improve the efficiency of the company. One of the main contributors is the implementation of the LEAN methodology in its production process.
In 2010 JetSupport and the University of Applied Sciences of Amsterdam initiated a lasting LEAN Six Sigma program focusing on the MRO activities. As where LEAN is usually related to production environments (e.g. Toyota), Mr. Ton van Deursen – owner and founder of the JetSupport Group strongly believed in the success and necessity for the LEAN mind-set in MRO. The program provides a continuing support from the University and combined with the market knowledge from the industry, improvements within the company’s organization were developed to act to the voice of the customer. Both parties agree that the success of the cooperation is found in balance between theory and practice.
The first hurdle was to intensify the dialogue with the customers and evaluate their requirements. ‘The voice of the customer is leading in our efforts to work more efficient. All activities not adding value to the customer’s request are considered waste and are eliminated.’ says Ton van Deursen. The program is aimed to be a continuing effort and has no end date. ‘Once you see the results of your first process enhancements, you’ll start all over again to repeat the cycle, since there is always room for improvement’ according to van Deursen. One of the major successes of the program is the ability of the organization to maintain a stable man-hour rate over the last 5 years despite higher operational costs for evening shifts and 24/7 availability.
As where the business aviation charter market margins remain under high pressure, less flight hours are made resulting in less maintenance. It forces MRO’s to follow its customers by providing cost-efficient maintenance solutions, especially considering that the maintenance costs represent around a third of the total operation costs of the aircraft. “If we had not taken any measures we would have been forced to increase our man-hour rate like others in the market have done,” says van Deursen, “but due to the LEAN program we stick with our 95 euro per man-hour in order to remain competitive in the MRO market and supporting our customers at all times.”