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Keeping stock

Keeping a low cost operation moving profitably at pace requires more than rapid turnarounds and simplified cabin service. Paul E Eden speaks to AJW’s Guy van den Berg about the momentous task of providing inventory and logistics solutions for easyJet

Set in leafy countryside around 30 minutes’ drive from London Gatwick, AJW Group’s high-tech Slinfold headquarters manages the entirety of easyJet’s logistics chain, or what Guy van den Berg, Director of Contract Services at AJW, describes as everything that the engineers, crew or passengers touch or interact with. The huge, modern construction includes bright office space for the large staff required to keep parts moving in and out of the building’s warehouse area, which consumes most of its floor space.

Constant processes of receipt and dispatch keep dedicated teams busy receiving, checking and processing incoming goods, including parts removed from aircraft ready for repair and/or refurbishment. As everything arriving carefully enters AJW’s Quantum stock control system, so a bewildering array of material is picked from the warehouse stocks and packaged ready for shipping, perhaps by van to Gatwick or Heathrow for consumption on site, or to any line station across easyJet’s extensive network.

Among all this, such is the scale of the easyJet task that AJW assigns teams dedicated to the carrier’s needs, the stock it holds and supplies for the airline also passing from Quantum into its preferred Swiss AviationSoftware AMOS, through which AJW and easyJet manage their transactional business. Guy van den Berg explains: “We’re a strategic partner to easyJet. When we began on the contract, it involved in the region of 232 aircraft and around 35 line stations; a large line station – like London Gatwick – could service in excess of 20 aircraft, while a small one might serve no more than two and only open seasonally.”

Gesturing to include the full extent of the conference room we’re sitting in, van den Berg says: “At a larger station there’ll be a facility around twice the size of this room full of stock we hold for easyJet, while at a small, seasonal station, you’d more likely find something akin to a large cupboard. But line stations are quite varied, and the output of a larger facility isn’t necessarily greater than that of a smaller one. Today, easyJet has expanded to 53 line stations, from the 35 we began with three years ago, but several are seasonal.”

The array and volume of stock held at each line station obviously varies with size, but also individual requirements. London Gatwick, as one of those stations easyJet uses far more extensive servicing, holds not only more of the same stock that a two-aircraft station might have, but also several additional parts. Keeping it topped up is especially easy thanks to AJW HQ’s proximity to the airport, and their daily shuttle of vehicles to supply easyJet’s extensive network that spans Northern and Southern Europe.

“We’re held to a three-hour ‘bubble’ in an aircraft-on-the-ground situation and, in all honesty, if the incident’s much south of Paris, sending the stock via road haulage simply won’t be fast enough. So, in that case, we send parts through Gatwick, where the next aircraft flying to that destination takes the stock as cargo.” >>


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