60 Seconds with Randolph L. Bradley

Modern Materials Handling sat down with Technical Fellow of supply chain management at The Boeing Co.

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Randolph L. Bradley

The Boeing Co.

Title: Technical fellow, supply chain management

Location: Chicago

Experience: Nearly 30 years of experience in military and commercial service parts management

Duties: Internal consultant responsible for weaving together demand forecasting, inventory optimization and supply chain simulation

Modern: Tell us briefly about your role at Boeing?

Bradley: I have a great job; I get to play with airplane models all day. I model demand for service parts, use optimization to identify the best stock levels to meet our customers’ requirements and then simulate the entire supply chain to understand risk when our customers fly more or less than we expected. We answer questions such as: Do we need to buy more spares? What if our customer has a limited budget or a budget cycle that precludes buying more spares? What is the impact on part fill rate and aircraft availability? Or, can we rebalance inventory across locations to mitigate performance risk?

Modern: As someone who has participated in both MHI Roadmaps, what do you think are the major supply chain challenges facing Boeing today and in the future that might be relevant to the Roadmap?

Bradley: Data analytics and the integration of data throughout the company is the first that comes to mind. You have to recognize that Boeing today is the result of the merger of a number of heritage companies with many data systems, architectures and terminologies. Data analytics is how we’re going to merge those systems together in the future. Another challenge being driven by our customers is the limited supply of funding available, and we have a number of competitors. Boeing has to continue to drive down costs and deliver more for less.

Modern: Since you were involved in the first Roadmap, what led you to participate and what did you expect to get out of it?

Bradley: Boeing is a member of the Consortium for Excellence in Logistics and Distribution, or CELDi. Back in 2013, Kevin Gue at MHI spoke to us about the development of a U.S. Roadmap on Material Handling and Logistics. CELDi members thought it was a pretty good idea and agreed to be a partnering organization. Frankly, I didn’t know what I expected to get out of it. I thought this was a way to look holistically across the supply chain industry in general rather than my narrow space and to see if there’s anything I could take home.

Modern: How were you able to use it in your position at Boeing?

Bradley: One of the first things I did was compare our technology roadmap against the first U.S. Roadmap to look for gaps. I also mapped CELDi-sponsored logistics and distribution research projects. The Roadmap confirmed our research direction both at Boeing and CELDi, while also identifying opportunities for future research to address gaps. I observed that a key problem when analyzing Big Data is that information that should be the same for a particular part isn’t always identical. That lead to “Variation Identification System for Operational Risks (VISOR) in Inventory Systems,” a project that assessed the impact of data uncertainty on stock levels. I’m working on a project now at the University of Missouri on inventory segmentation, which is looking at ways to group service parts to do a better job of setting stock levels when there is uncertainty in demand and lead time.

Modern: MHI is now releasing Roadmap 2.0. What do you think has changed, and what are you hoping to see addressed?

Bradley: Several things. One that hasn’t changed is the need for clean, consistent and fully populated datasets to analyze. There was a lot of talk about drones at the second roadmapping session I just attended at Loyola. How do we keep commercial aviation safe from drones, particularly around airports? My biggest surprise is how prescient the first Roadmap really was. As a result, I’m looking forward to understanding—and addressing—the trends emerging from the second Roadmap as a way to gain a competitive advantage.

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