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Parts Management at Jazz Aviation Keeps Airplanes Flying High
A great deal of floor space was recovered and parts management has improved through enhanced batch processing.
 

Jazz Aviation is a regional carrier serving approximately 80 destinations across Canada and the United States. Working under a commercial agreement with Air Canada, Jazz operates more flights and travels to more Canadian destinations than any other carrier. With flights to large cities as well as to small town communities, Jazz has a large presence in North America and is one of the largest regional airlines in the world. The airline's operational base in Toronto is responsible for maintenance and repair for 125 airplanes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As the largest of six line bases, its maintenance stockroom supplies maintenance and repair parts to technicians on site as well as to the five other line bases.

The 6,900-square-foot facility has space limitations and the facility needed a solution that wouldn't force relocation. "Space is at a premium being next to an airport," explains Mike Hauser, Stores System Manager for Jazz Aviation. The stockroom already had 200 bays of shelving and, with no floor space available, adding more shelving wasn't an option. Overflow bulk inventory was spilling into the hanger reserved for airplane maintenance, and at risk of being misplaced or damaged. "It was a constant battle, we had no more room. We needed a full supply chain solution, not just a temporary fix."

Space Savings
To save space, roughly 1,196 square feet of shelving was consolidated into two Shuttle Vertical Lift Modules (VLMs) from Kardex Remstar, which occupied only 184 square feet, a 71 percent savings in floor space! Inventory in the two VLMs is managed with Kardex Remstar's Power Pick Global inventory management software integrated with existing TRAX software. Alongside a four-position batch station, additional pick-to-light technology and label printers add inventory control and increased accuracy levels.

Jazz Aviation used the recovered 636 square feet of floor space to store bulk inventory. According to Hauser, "part of the goal of this project was to get all of the bulk inventory being stored in the hanger, into the warehouse." He adds that "now all inventory is securely stored in the stockroom providing increased inventory control."

Accuracy Soars
With 20,000 stock keeping units (SKUs) in inventory, Jazz Aviation must keep a close eye on every part coming in and out of the stockroom. Every SKU received into inventory has a batch or lot number. The batch number must be traceable through the distribution channel. In each aircraft, it is crucial to know what part number and batch number was used. Upon receipt, each batch is stored in a separate location in the VLMs. If there are 10 of the same part number, but three different batch numbers, the Power Pick Global software will store that part in three different locations in the VLMs, based on batch number.

An operator chooses a part by part number and batch number. Such inventory control allows Jazz Aviation to trace which part is put into each order and used on each plane. To verify a pick that is based on batch number, an operator scans the part before it goes into the order tote, ensuring that it is not only the correct part number but the correct batch number as well. Due to the batch picking process and batch validation, accuracy has increased to nearly 99 percent. In addition, the safety of the inventory is ensured by the VLMs, with a single access opening to protect inventory from the outside environment. By protecting and managing its inventory, Jazz Aviation is maintaining the safety of the airplanes and their passengers.

Prior to the use of the VLMs, in the old shelving area, four to seven minutes was needed per pick, or about 15 parts picks per hour. In contrast, in the VLM area, parts are delivered to an operator for picking, eliminating walk and search time. The pick-to-light technology directs an operator to the exact pick location, specifying location, part number and quantity to be picked. Using the VLMs, required pick time has decreased to about one minute per pick, or about 60 picks per hour, for a productivity increase of 77 percent!

Just over one-half of the 20,000 SKUs in inventory were consolidated into the 2 VLMs. About 92 percent of orders come from technicians while the remaining 8 percent come from other bases requesting transfers. The maintenance department enters orders into TRAX, and base inventory transfers are created by Supply Chain. The maintenance department creates an order (pick list) in TRAX which triggers an automatic populate action in the Power Pick Global order processing queue.

When it is time to fulfill an order, an operator can scan the barcode on the TRAX pick list to populate the order in the Power Pick Global software. The batch station located next to the VLMs has four locations, allowing an operator to fill four orders at a time. The VLMs move to retrieve the first SKU required and deliver it to the operator. Using pick-to-light technology, the transaction information center (TIC) located on the front of each VLM directs the operator to the exact location and displays the quantity to be picked. The operator picks the quantity and scans each SKU's barcode to verify the batch number before distributing the SKUs among the four orders on the batch station. While the operator is distributing the first SKU among the orders, the second VLM is positioning for the next pick, eliminating operator wait time. After the SKUs are distributed among the orders, the next pick is ready and waiting for the operator. The operator continues to pick from the VLMs until all required SKUs for each order have been retrieved.

If an order requires an operator to "break pack," the operator can print a part label during picking and re-label the SKUs that are picked. Breaking a pack involves opening a pack of 10 SKUs to pick 2 for an order. With the printed label, the operator can "bag and tag" the two SKUs required for the order, maintaining the integrity of the pick.

If an order requires inventory from both the VLM area and the shelving area, the VLM parts are picked first. Then the shelving parts are matched with the order at the staging area where orders are held for pickup. With the success of Jazz Aviation's maintenance operation in Toronto, other Jazz Aviation maintenance locations are considering automation to increase their efficiency as well.

 

Contact: Kardex Remstar, LLC, 41 Eisenhower Drive, Westbrook, ME 04092  800-639-5805 or 207-591-3168 E-mail: Christina.dube@kardexremstar.com Web: www.kardexremstar.com  

 
 
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