00:00:01 Introduction to Fanny Kientz
00:01:14 Impact of global supply chain on her role.
00:02:16 Aircraft engine disassembly and inspection process.
00:03:22 Discussing complexity of engine supply chain.
00:04:16 Technical validation and cooperation with departments.
00:05:18 Importance of time efficiency in engine repair.
00:06:09 Question on major supply chain changes.
00:07:13 Need for constant adaptation in specific situations.
00:08:11 Describing what Lokad does for advanced industry.
00:09:09 Reflections on Lokad’s techniques and their surprises.
00:10:18 Partnership and confrontation of ideas with experts.
00:11:16 Discussion of ongoing projects, including scrap estimation.
00:12:32 Notion of diverse roles within supply chain teamwork.
00:13:16 Need for enthusiasm and customer focus.


Joannes Vermorel, founder of Lokad, and Fanny Kientz, VP of Engine Supply Chain and Assets at Air France Industries (AFI), discuss supply chain management complexities in aviation engine maintenance. Kientz, who oversees the supply chain for the engine department, emphasizes the challenge of balancing operational efficiency and cost control. Prior to partnering with Lokad, AFI struggled to effectively leverage their data. With Lokad’s assistance, AFI has improved their data-driven approach to supply chain management, enhancing decision-making processes, and increasing operational efficiency. Kientz also highlights the importance of team diversity, curiosity, and a customer-centric approach in managing the intricate aviation supply chain.

Extended Summary

Joannes Vermorel, founder of Lokad, a company specializing in supply chain optimization, initiates a discussion with Fanny Kientz, VP Engine Supply Chain and Assets at Air France Industries (AFI), within the engine shop of the AFI facility.

Kientz, who is relatively new to AFI, having joined a little over a year ago, has a background in revenue management in a company unrelated to the supply chain. Her current role at AFI involves overseeing the supply chain and assets for the engine department, a position she finds interesting and filled with passion.

Kientz describes her job as a blend of internal operations, with the aim to repair engines swiftly, and external factors, which are linked to the broader worldwide supply chain. This requires a dynamic interaction with their suppliers and staying vigilant about global supply chain impacts on their operations.

She then details the maintenance process for aircraft engines, emphasizing their complexity. An aircraft engine, which has a lifespan of several decades, undergoes numerous repairs, both scheduled and unexpected, throughout its service life. These repairs occur in the engine shop, where the engine is completely disassembled for inspection.

During this process, some parts are discarded, some are repaired, and others are extended, after which all these components are reassembled. An engine can be quite massive, with the largest ones measuring up to seven meters and weighing 13 tons. Furthermore, when disassembled, an engine can be broken down into nearly 10,000 parts. This complexity extends from small elements like bolts that cost just a few dollars, to substantial components like low-pressure turbine cases that can cost up to a million dollars.

Kientz notes that the aviation industry is incredibly safe, especially regarding these complex aircraft engines. These engines, operating under diverse conditions of altitude and temperature, require meticulous engineering for their functioning. She points out the associated complexities in terms of supply chain, traceability, and processes surrounding these engines.

Safety in flight is the main priority in this highly regulated field. Consequently, all engine parts are traced, and their procurement and repairs strictly controlled. They must only buy from approved suppliers and have repairs done by specified entities. This attention to detail extends to engine reassembly, wherein they can’t just insert any parts into the engine. Parts must be either from the original engine or repaired parts, or they can be swapped between different engines, but all such actions demand technical approval. This discussion underscores the significant challenges and meticulous attention to detail required in managing the supply chain for aviation engine maintenance.

In their discussion, Fanny outlines the operational demands of her role at AFI. She describes aircraft engines as vast assets that contain around 10,000 parts, some of which are incredibly expensive due to their highly specialized engineering. The necessity of keeping aircraft engines in service to maximize asset utilization prompts a preemptive approach to maintenance. Rather than waiting for engines to show signs of wear and tear, they order parts in advance and maintain a stock to facilitate immediate repairs when needed.

While this approach ensures operational efficiency, it also presents a significant financial challenge. Holding stock ties up capital - to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in AFI’s case. The challenge, therefore, lies in balancing operational efficiency with cost control, the core task for those overseeing the supply chain.

In addition to financial concerns, AFI’s supply chain faces practical problems. These include the unreliability of transport, which can cause delays, and difficulties among suppliers, particularly in the aftermath of a pandemic. These ’little stones in the shoes,’ as Fanny describes them, necessitate constant adaptation and problem-solving.

Reflecting on AFI’s collaboration with Lokad, Fanny highlights the pivotal role of data in managing these challenges. Before working with Lokad, AFI had vast amounts of data across various systems but struggled to leverage this resource effectively. Their processes were manual, and they were unable to fully exploit the potential insights and efficiencies this data could offer.

With Lokad’s expertise, AFI has been able to harness their data more effectively, bringing a more data-driven, proactive, and responsive approach to their supply chain management.

Prior to collaborating with Lokad, AFI faced significant challenges leveraging their substantial data resources, but Lokad helped unlock this potential. Specifically, Lokad’s expertise has aided AFI in developing more precise, adaptive models to determine the optimal levels of costly engine part stocks. This constant reassessment is crucial for economic gains and better decision-making processes.

Fanny notes Lokad’s unusual yet effective approach to supply chain management. Despite Lokad’s team not being aviation industry experts, they demonstrate a strong understanding of AFI’s unique challenges. Lokad’s ability to swiftly provide solutions and their iterative approach allow AFI to see results quickly, which Fanny appreciates.

Fanny describes the relationship with Lokad’s supply chain scientists as a partnership. AFI brings in-depth knowledge of the aviation domain, while Lokad contributes its supply chain expertise. This collaborative approach allows Lokad to help AFI identify blind spots, providing a broader view of their issues, and facilitating progress.

One of the significant values AFI has derived from Lokad’s collaboration is the enhanced ability to track supply chain performance through Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and dashboards. Moreover, Lokad assists in larger ongoing projects like scrap estimations, which are crucial for predicting which parts can be reused or discarded. Lokad’s statistical models help AFI make better forecasts in this regard.

Reflecting on the complexity of aviation supply chain management, Fanny notes that it is more demanding than simpler supply chains due to the technical intricacy of the equipment. As a result, a team effort is essential, and she underscores the importance of certain qualities in her colleagues to manage this complexity effectively.

Fanny values the diversity of roles and skills within her team, observing that supply chain management is a team effort. The team comprises people with analytical abilities who can forecast and plan, alongside those who are more operationally inclined and manage day-to-day tasks. Some team members focus on cooperation and vendor management with suppliers.

For her, curiosity stands out as a significant quality, given the continually evolving nature of their domain. Teamwork is equally critical since everyone in the supply chain is interconnected, necessitating effective collaboration. Enthusiasm for the product and a client-centered approach are also important. Fanny emphasizes that their customers extend beyond the airlines they serve to include the internal mechanics who reassemble the engines.

Full Transcript

Joannes Vermorel: This is the engine shop of Air France Industries, one of Lokad’s long-time clients. As you can see, this is not exactly an office. This is where aircraft engines get maintained and repaired. It’s a pleasure for me to be with Fanny Kientz today. Fanny, could you tell us a little about yourself and what you’re doing at Air France Industries?

Fanny Kientz: I’m quite recent in Air France Industries, having joined a little over a year ago. Before this, I was working in Revenue Management at Air France, which had nothing to do with supply chain. Now, for a little over a year, I’ve been with Air France Industries and am in charge of supply chain and assets for the Engine Department.

Joannes Vermorel: What do you find interesting about your current role and position at Air France?

Fanny Kientz: It’s very interesting and full of passion. It’s a job where you have a mix of operations, our goal is to get the engines repaired as quickly as possible. But we also have a connection to the external world, as we are impacted by the global worldwide supply chain. We have to work with our suppliers, so it’s a mix of internal topics and also external factors.

Joannes Vermorel: For our audience who is not specialized in aviation and knows very little about the aviation supply chain, could you tell us a bit about what the maintenance of aircraft, and more specifically aircraft engines, entails?

Fanny Kientz: An engine is quite a complex piece. An engine has a lifespan of several decades and throughout its life, it is going to be repaired several times, either through scheduled repairs or unexpected ones when there’s something wrong with the plane. The place you see here is where most of the scheduled repairs occur. We bring the engine in, it gets completely disassembled and inspected. Some parts will be scrapped, some parts will be repaired, and some parts will be extended. Then, all of these parts will be put back together. An engine is quite massive, the biggest ones can measure up to seven meters and can weigh up to 13 tons. When we completely disassemble them, it represents almost 10,000 parts. So, it’s very complex. It can range from the smallest part, like a bolt that can cost a few dollars, to a low-pressure turbine case, which is huge and can cost up to a million dollars.

Joannes Vermorel: One of the interesting things is that the aviation industry has become incredibly safe, especially those aircraft engines which are massively complex. They operate high altitude, high temperature or low temperature so for some parts, high pressure or low pressure for some other parts. Could you give us some ideas on the sort of complexity that it entails in terms of supply chain, in terms of traceability, in terms of processes around those engines?

Fanny Kientz: Indeed, we are in a field which is highly regulated because flight security is our main priority. All the parts are traced. We have also regulations with our suppliers. We cannot buy any parts on the market; we need to buy them from agreed suppliers. They need to be repaired by specific agreed-upon suppliers and then when we reassemble the engine, we cannot put any parts in it. We also need to check that either we take the parts from the original engines or the ones that are repaired. We can do switch between different engines, but it requires technical validation. So we need to work also very closely with the technical departments and the engineering department. From a supply chain perspective, we have thousands of parts, something like 10,000 and those parts are some of them are very costly because it’s very precise engineering.

Joannes Vermorel: Why not just wait until the aircraft engine shows up here in this facility, diagnose the exact list of parts that we need, and then order the parts from all those very specialized suppliers?

Fanny Kientz: We could do that. We could wait for the engine to come in, inspect all the parts, and then decide what to do, but the problem is that it would take a lot of time. Then we will need to order some parts, wait for them to arrive. For the parts that need to be repaired, send them to the repair shop then have them back. An engine is a huge asset, so when it’s on the ground, we need to put it back on the plane as soon as possible. That’s why we anticipate; we know that some parts will be scrapped, so we can order them in advance. We also have a stock in place; we have a certain number of parts on the shelf so that when the engine is in the shop, we can directly take these parts from the shelf and reassemble the engine as soon as possible.

Joannes Vermorel: As we can see, the engine is quite complex, there are thousands of parts, lots of people involved, lots of suppliers, and obviously, there are some expected timelines. From your perspective, what are the biggest supply chain challenges in making all of this happen while keeping cost and delays under control? What are the main difficulties associated with these operations?

Fanny Kientz: The first difficulty and our main job is to balance the operational efficiency and the cost. We could have a point of view where we put a maximum of parts on the shelf but that would cost too much. Just to give you a figure, the amount of stock we have today is around several hundreds of millions of dollars. So we really have to balance and that’s our main goal and the real complexity we have to deal with. Then on top of that, there is the everyday life where the supply chain does not go as quick as we would like especially today where we have delays in transports, suppliers that are facing difficulties in the post-pandemic. All of this implies that we have to adapt all the time, we have specific situations all the time where we have to find solutions.

Joannes Vermorel: So Lokad and Air France Industries started to work together almost half a decade ago. I know that you arrived recently, but from your perspective, what was pretty much the situation that Air France Industries faced before the advent of Lokad?

Fanny Kientz: Before we started working with Lokad, we did a lot of things but faced significant challenges with our data. We had a lot of data spread across different systems and couldn’t unlock its full potential. We operated in a very manual and cumbersome way. Lokad helped us unleash the potential of our data.

Joannes Vermorel: How would you describe what Lokad is actually doing for Air France Industries, particularly for the Engine Department?

Fanny Kientz: Lokad is adding a lot of value, challenging us, and helping us develop models to better size our stock levels. As it’s very expensive, we need to constantly challenge ourselves and identify potential economic gains. Especially given our current situation, Lokad helps us model and create algorithms that lead to smarter and more adaptive decisions.

Joannes Vermorel: I believe that the Lokad approach is fairly unusual. What do you think? What surprised you the most about the techniques that Lokad is using at Air France Industries?

Fanny Kientz: I’m not an expert in data science, but what truly astonishes me is Lokad’s ability to understand our issues. You are not experts in the aircraft and engine industry, but Lokad consistently understands our needs and provides quick, solid solutions. We work through an iterative approach, and it’s rewarding to see the first results promptly.

Joannes Vermorel: You mentioned working with Lokad’s teams of supply chain scientists. Could you tell us a bit about how you interact with these scientists? What does the discussion look like from your perspective?

Fanny Kientz: It’s truly a partnership. We bring our domain expertise and ideas, then we mesh them with Lokad’s supply chain knowledge. Lokad’s team points out our blind spots and helps us have a broader view of our issues. It helps us move forward.

Joannes Vermorel: Lokad has had the opportunity to work with Air France Industries for half a decade already. Could you shed some light on the sort of value Air France is finding in having Lokad around?

Fanny Kientz: A significant step was enhancing our data management. Thanks to Lokad, we now have KPIs to monitor our supply chain and dashboards to track its activity. We also have big ongoing projects, like our estimations of scrap parts. It’s an important input for us, and Lokad helps us apply statistical models to forecast these things better.

Joannes Vermorel: The aviation supply chain is quite demanding. The sheer technical complexity of the equipment that’s being processed is far more complex than, say, a bakery or other simpler supply chains. What qualities are you looking for in your colleagues? This is obviously a team effort, not the work of one person. It’s an entire company that has to orchestrate everything it takes to maintain and repair these engines. What sorts of skills, experiences, or qualities are you seeking in your colleagues?

Fanny Kientz: What’s great about the supply chain is that it’s teamwork and it also involves different types of jobs. We have people who are very analytical, who can forecast and plan ahead. We have some who are very operational, handling day-to-day work. Some people are really more into cooperation and vendor management with our suppliers. There are many qualities we look for because we have different types of jobs within the supply chain. But I would say the main qualities we seek are curiosity, as it’s an ever-evolving domain, and teamwork, because we really need to work together. The supply chain is, by definition, everywhere. Everyone is connected together so we need to be able to work as a team. Enthusiasm for the product is also important. I would add a sense of customer focus too, because our customers are ultimately the airlines we serve, but also internally, the mechanics that need to reassemble the engine.

Joannes Vermorel: Fanny, thank you very much for welcoming us in this incredible engine shop.

Fanny Kientz: Thank you very much.