This post is also available in: Spanish
In place since 2005, DB Schenker’s aerospace division in Mexico provides a level of expertise and support that’s unmatched in the logistics field.
After coming off a strong year in 2018, driven mostly by increased passenger travel and higher military expenditures, the global aerospace and defense (A&D) industry is in the midst of a growth period. According to Deloitte, the industry is expected to continue its growth trajectory this year, led by growing commercial aircraft production and strong defense spending.
Coming into 2019, the commercial aircraft order backlog was at its peak of more than 14,000, with about 38,000 aircraft expected to be produced globally over the next 20 years. “In the commercial aerospace sector, aircraft order backlog remains at an all-time high,” Deloitte reports, “as demand for next-generation, fuel-efficient aircraft continues to surge with the rise in oil prices.”
A major focus in Mexican economic development—both as an industrial sector and in connection with commercial, private, and defense aviation growth—the aerospace market plays a key role in the country’s priority sector strategy and ranks as a “best-prospect industry sector” for Mexico, according to Export.gov. The number of aerospace firms in Mexico has grown from 112 organizations in 2009 to a current 330 (Export.gov’s latest estimate). The arrival of the aerospace firm Bombardier to the State of Queretaro, for example, encouraged numerous international firms to consider the country’s aerospace sector.
Becoming an Aerospace Pioneer in Mexico
In 2005, DB Schenker became one of the various support companies that began investing in Mexico’s aerospace industry. It was then that Kaizad Dalal, a Branch Manager in the Bajio area came on board to start up the logistics services provider’s in-country aerospace division. “We were pioneers in this market,” says Dalal, who, with his years of experience working in the commercial aerospace industry, helped DB Schenker develop a division based on sound expertise and experience.
“We spoke the same language as our customers, and we offered them what they needed and wanted in terms of ongoing logistics support,” says Dalal. “At the time, most other freight forwarders lacked an aerospace background; they were just selling their services.” Because of this, DB Schenker wound up serving a major part of the Mexican aerospace market, including a number of high-profile, international airlines.
For those customers, the logistics provided a blend of routine, critical, and aircraft on the ground (AOG) services. “We gave these customers options that they didn’t have before in Mexico,” Dalal explains. As part of its AOG offering, for example, DB Schenker set up a 24/7/365 help desk that’s manned by experts who act quickly when an aerospace customer needs parts or equipment to get its planes serviced and back in the air quickly.
Two years after DB Schenker started its Mexican aerospace division, the country began to see an influx of commercial airlines. “Suddenly, Mexico became a major target for the aerospace industry, with companies from Canada and Europe wanting to invest in the industry here,” says Dalal.
Part of the allure included inexpensive, certified labor and a pool of aeronautical engineers. “We had a whole host of new original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and maintenance repair and overhaul providers (MROs) interested in making their products here,” says Dalal. “It wasn’t just the airlines anymore.”
Making Great Strides in Aerospace
Much like the industry that it serves, DB Schenker’s aerospace division has experienced steady growth and also evolved steadily over the last 14 years. Improvements made along the way include a shift to digital AOG management, which at one time was largely handled manually.
A unique IT platform, the ATOL-AOG Tool On LIne, for example, supports all AOG Desks in performing AOG operations (planning, monitoring, tracing, etc.) while helping to interface communication between all parties (AOG Desks, customer, shipper, consignee, etc.). “Our AOG staff used to enter all of the details,” Dalal says, “and now much of that has been automated and/or moved over newer, automated version of ATOL.”
Other key changes for DB Schenker included the opening of new locations throughout the country, the addition of a helicopter support operation (which will be expanded this year), and the expansion of its services for large accounts.
Angelica Alvarez, a Key Account Manager, Aerospace, for DB Schenker, says the logistics provider is also offering more repair management logistics services to its aerospace customers, knowing that both MROs and airlines need help with this aspect of their growing businesses.
“Repair logistics is basically a complete supply chain cycle,” says Alvarez, “and one where we export all equipment in need of repair, complete the equipment checks, give the customer visibility over repair status (via a track and trace platform known as CARLA), and then get the items back to them in a timely manner.”
As one of the earliest supporters of Mexico’s aerospace industry—and of the companies that support that industry—DB Schenker understands the industry well and has a dedicated team in place to ensure its ongoing success. “Our aerospace customers can rest easy knowing that they have a logistics partner who knows and understands their marketplace,” says Dalal, “and that can help them navigate the challenges and take advantage of the many opportunities here.”