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Impact of Covid-19 on material management practices

When Covid-19 hit a prospering industry, the effects were substantial. Significant capacity adjustments led to a wave of unprecedented challenges for aircraft operators. The impact affected all relevant divisions of operators and premature lease returns leaving parked aircraft on the agenda. 

During Covid-19 the pressure on material management reduced as a result of fewer material requests and the possibility of borrowing spares from parked aircraft. Nevertheless, the time to get prepared for the post-Covid-19 period has arrived. 

Advanced software solutions, big data and digitalization may give advanced opportunities to predict material requirements. However, these systems usually do not correctly handle a demand situation such as during a pandemic and the related material consumption. Using historical data, such systems may miscalculate the real demand. Therefore, it is crucial that material planning experts understand how to handle the systematic calculation to avoid shortcomings in the post-pandemic period. Relying on system forecasts only may become a dangerous undertaking in the near future.

Our observation is that the typical material planning function does not exist in many companies. The title ‘Material Planner’ may be registered in the staff list but the function is usually limited to ‘performing what the system says’, or ‘responding to actual maintenance requests’. The blind trust in computer systems, combined with material planning which never had to perform detailed calculations of spares, may become a problem in material provisioning. 

The fundamental question will be: Is material planning aware of the revised tasks and are the planning staff able to fulfill the additional requirements?

Read the full article for an overview of the most common problems in material management for airline operators and MROs with recommendations on how to act in preparation for post-Covid19.