A Day Dealing With Spare Parts Logistics: Turning Nightmares Into Dreams

The goal of efficient spare parts logistics management is simple: get the right parts to the right place at the right time. Yet those twelve, one-syllable words describe one of the most demanding, complex jobs in the entire logistics profession. Seriously, have you ever gone a single day without handling some sort of crisis?

Actually, most in the spare parts logistics space would call a day with just one crisis a good day, almost a dream day. Here’s the other extreme.

A Nightmare Morning at the Office

You arrive early and learn that an important shipment of spare parts is now delayed indefinitely due to a train derailment in Japan. The inventory system shows parts are available at your other warehouse, but the pickers there say the bins are empty. Timing is critical: two customers are expecting to have their replacement units installed tomorrow. Where can you find more inventory and how do you get it there in time?

Another call comes in. A labor strike in France has shut down public transportation and some major roadways. Your repair parts and technicians are stuck in a huge traffic jam outside Lille, and need to be at the customer within 3 hours. What should they do?

Then the next crisis hits. An angry customer in New Delhi is threatening to return a shipment because it had the incorrect ITC code. The paperwork classified the parts as items for retail sale instead of service repair parts, so Indian officials want to tack on a 20% tariff. How do you fix a paperwork mistake right this second when you’re 12,000 miles away and don’t speak the language?

Your computer dings, announcing the arrival of a new email. You’re invited to a meeting with the higher-ups to talk about rising inventory costs. They expect you to bring charts, graphs, and a plan to lower costs. Where do you even start?

It’s just 9 a.m. You really need that first cup of coffee, don’t you? This is shaping up to be a horrible, no good, very bad day.

If you had Flash Global as a spare parts logistics partner, you could have finished the entire pot of coffee by now – and enjoyed a donut! We help you optimize your spare parts supply chain operations by combining our deep knowledge of the international service supply chain with specialized technology and software, transforming your nightmare days into dream days.

Here’s how.

Warehousing and Distribution Services

We maintain a global network of in-region distribution centers and forward stocking locations (FSL). It utilizes one IT platform – FlashTrac – to provide end-to-end visibility and streamline global inventory management. You can instantly check the location and status of every component and finished unit in the after-sales supply chain.

TracStar, our state-of-the-art warehouse management system, improves picking efficiency and accuracy while giving you confidence in inventory numbers. The data is housed in FlashTrac, which provides unparalleled visibility, simplifies reporting, and helps with accurate decision-making.

We can also integrate our operations with your other partners using electronic B2B integrations. You can stop wasting time making multiple entries and reconciling data from different databases and vendors. Using B2B integrations, all the data appears in FlashTrac dynamically as transactions occur.

How we could solve your problem in Japan: FlashTrac can immediately show you inventory located in other warehouses, FSLs, and even other supply chain partner warehouses. You can move parts from one facility to another or directly out to the end customer. And, with TracStar, that “missing inventory” problem is much less likely to happen.

Supply Chain Modeling

We take your customer locations and SLAs and use our geographical supply chain network modeling process to identify which facilities and locations are best suited to meet customer expectations while controlling costs. The result is a custom spare parts logistics solution that helps you provide better customer service while utilizing the minimum number of distribution centers and FSLs.

How we could solve your problem in France: We use geospatial analysis to identify alternate routes for your service technician that could help him reach the customer on time. If that’s not possible, we can pinpoint alternatives: perhaps a technician in another location can be diverted. If that doesn’t work, then you can still show your customer that you exhausted all alternatives, and just got foiled by events out of your control. That helps preserve customer trust and satisfaction.

International Trade Compliance

Every country has its own rules and regulations regarding customs documentation, tariffs, duties, “enterprise zones,” and import/export laws. Even a minor error can lead to delays, increased costs, or civil or criminal penalties. You can’t play around with this — every document has to be done right.

At Flash Global, our trade compliance experts are on the ground in strategically located regions where we maintain operations. Nothing beats face-to-face communication and negotiation to resolve problems. We also mitigate your risk by supporting your Importer and/or Exporter of Record (IOR/EOR) needs on your behalf, once we have the proper authorization. Our team is staffed with trade compliance experts. We keep track of the details so you don’t have to.

Want to know more? Watch our Import/Export Trade Compliance Webinar.

How we could solve your problem in India: A lot of shipments get delayed in customs in India because the country uses its own system to classify imports. Protectionist trade laws mean that shipments bound for one industrial use may carry a stiff tariff while the same part intended for another use enters the country duty-free. We have one of the best trade compliance systems in the industry and employ compliance experts with the knowledge and experience to get the paperwork right the first time. They’re in-country and ready to step in to solve problems on the ground if needed.

Inventory Management & Cost Control

Now we get to the issue that no one in spare parts logistics can ignore: controlling the total cost of ownership (TCO).

Every link in the supply chain adds cost and complexity. Service supply chain inventory requirements are notoriously difficult to predict, and there’s always the temptation to carry “just in case” inventory instead of “just in time.” You need a partner who can help you squeeze every dollar out of the process.

How Flash Global can make you the star of your inventory cost reduction meeting: Basically, every spare parts logistics service we provide helps you control costs and increase customer satisfaction. You can even use FlashTrac to create the charts and graphs that prove it. You won’t have to work through lunch to prepare for that meeting!

Here are just a few of our services:

  • Demand Modeling: Reliably estimate inventory requirements and repair schedules.
  • Transportation Management: Reduce the need for expensive air shipments by utilizing in-country distribution centers and FSLs.
  • Quality Improvement: The best way to reduce the cost of repairs and returns is to avoid them. Our engineers work with your operations, quality, and engineering teams to add value and drive product quality and innovation.
  • Data Analysis: We dig deep into the data to help you understand why parts fail, improve quality, and incorporate the information into our next-generation design.
  • Trade Compliance: Avoid the extra costs and legal problems associated with critical shipments delayed for days or weeks due to paperwork problems.

Flash Global can help make every day a good day for those in the spare parts logistics space. Contact us now to learn more.


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