As the global e-commerce market continues to grow, so too does the trend for MROs acquiring components and services through digital means.
While digital platforms have existed in some form for a few decades through companies such as ILS and Parts Base, both widely used by providers, options are becoming more sophisticated marketplaces to both buy and sell both parts and services.
Perhaps sensing a market opportunity, the past few years have seen MROs ramp up their digital procurement offerings by establishing standalone entities to cater for this.
January this year saw U.S. MRO NORDAM launch PartPilot, a wholly-owned subsidiary overseeing an online marketplace for factory-new, new-surplus, overhauled, repaired and as-removed parts from an inventory of 17 million items to buy, sell and exchange.
PartPilot COO T. Hastings Siegfried says the way companies are procuring parts and services is changing as a result of day-to-day habits. “This is driven in general by the increased comfort society has using technology in our personal lives, the desire by individuals and businesses to leverage technology for increased productivity, and the increasing prevalence of tech-oriented supply-chain professionals,” he says.
AAR also ramped up its existing PAARTS offering for component sales in late 2017, and says it hopes to add services within the next year.
Skeyos, founded by Lufthansa Technik, was another recent entrant into the market after launching in January 2018. Having started with launch partners, it confirmed at MRO Americas last month that it is already looking to move into the U.S., and that this is already underway.
As of May 2018, it has commenced work with Mingo Aerospace, an Owasso, Oklahoma-based aircraft component repair and manufacturing facility.
Non MRO-affiliated players have also made their presence felt in the world of aviation e-commerce. These include MROmarketplace.com, which has provided quotations for operators since 2013, and ePlane, which set up in 2015 and bills itself as a “one-stop shop for aircraft part sourcing and repair services.”
While the market is still evolving, some MROs still prefer to source parts the old way, having voiced concerns over issues such as risk management and the reliability of the platforms themselves. For some, there is simply a reluctance to order highly valuable components without negotiations and confirmation of a unit’s availability.
Yet, there is also a belief that as digital stores will only grow over the next few years and sophisticated and trusted platforms will be attractive to MROs looking to improve operational efficiency in a competitive way.
A feature on the growing component e-commerce market will feature in the May issue of Inside MRO.