The Sum of its Parts

Gulfstream’s new automated parts distribution center will make business aviation’s best product support network even more swift

The success story behind business aviation’s leading aircraft availability is best told in several parts: 500,000 of them in fact.

Gulfstream’s parts distribution network manages a half million parts for 18 aircraft models at warehouses and service centers on four continents. That worldwide reach results in Gulfstream getting a part to a customer in need within 24 hours more than 85 percent of the time.

That efficiency is soon to be even better with the opening of a new worldwide Product Support Distribution Center near the company’s Savannah, Georgia, world headquarters. A global hub for parts and materials, the facility will house approximately US$900 million in inventory and incorporates the latest in automation technology to further improve delivery times to customers.

“This next-generation facility ensures our parts distribution network remains the best in the industry for years to come,” says Derek Zimmerman, president, Gulfstream Product Support. “With this investment, we will continue to meet the demand for parts for the growing Gulfstream fleet.”

The Product Support Distribution Center is a building ahead of its time. Gulfstream leverages technology throughout, from smart forklifts and safety mechanisms on the loading dock doors to the automated find-and-retrieve systems that cut “part-picking” times from minutes to seconds.

Once the facility is fully operational, intuitive software will record and analyze data to help Gulfstream “optimize and prioritize the operations and placement of parts,” says Yahia El-zine, who led the development and implementation of the automated systems. For example, the computer will shuffle parts trays to put those holding the materials most in demand in the most accessible locations.

The facility was sized for the future, too. With more than 2,400 Gulfstream aircraft in service and two more new models—the Gulfstream G500 and Gulfstream G600—in development, the design allows for continuous expansion.

The building stretches a quarter-mile in length, stands four stories tall and is planned down to the cubic inch. In one area, mechanized carousels stuffed with small bins stretch 32 feet toward the ceiling. In another, two rows of large trays are stacked one on top of another, yet each is easily accessible thanks to an automated system running down the building’s centerline. At the far end, steel racks for large items flank a 35-foot-wide door and a 15,000-pound crane that can handle even the most massive part in Gulfstream’s inventory, a G650ER wing.

Between each section is open, easily configurable space. Gulfstream could add more small parts carousels, bulk racks, even offices if demand warrants.

“This facility is all about making the Gulfstream ownership experience second to none in the world,” says Chris Sylvies, senior manager, Materials, Gulfstream. “We all have an important role to play. This is our part.”

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