Five Rings Aerospace takes collaboration to a new level
The company has taken a new approach to manufacturing, collaborating with local businesses to provide a holistic service with Production Approval from the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority. Under this model, individual suppliers can now work in the highly-regulated aviation industry, customers deal with just one authorised entity and Five Rings significantly grows its business.
Five Rings Aerospace is an aviation consultancy company that specialises in providing custom design solutions for aircraft modifications and repairs, and product design and manufacture. It provides aircraft design services to fixed and rotary wing aircraft operators throughout Australia and the Asia Pacific.
Greg Hanlon, Managing Director, explained that having CASA accreditation as a manufacturer means that the company can commission work from a whole range of suppliers locally. They make sure that each supplier has the right skills, competencies and materials, and then check that every product and component has been made to the required standards.
"We took this step in response to requests from our customers. After they commissioned and approved a design from our company, they’d often ask us to have it made for them. In the past we would then have to refer them on to approved manufacturers, mostly interstate. Now we deal locally with efficient businesses we trust, who found that gaining CASA accreditation was just too hard.
“It’s been a successful move for us. In only six months we’ve taken on over $500,000 in manufacturing work and there’s no reason why we can’t double that this year. We’re planning to put on a manufacturing coordinator to supervise operations. So far it’s all been word of mouth but we need to do some strategic marketing so people know what we can offer. Being a virtual manufacturer also gives us a real point of difference from our competitors.”
Benefits to Five Rings customers are that they are now dealing with a one-stop shop that can design, build and deliver to their tight timelines. While they are paying a bit more to do this, they save by not having to source the services from a whole range of different suppliers.
Previously, CASA’s system meant that there were separate businesses accredited to provide services such as welding, machining, sheetmetal fabrication, upholstery – everything. That was time consuming for customers, who had to approach each business separately to get a job done. Now subcontractors make all the different pieces, Five Rings Aerospace puts it together and presents it to the customer as a finished product.
Greg described the process in terms of a typical project involving manufacture of an aircraft passenger seat.
“Machinists will fabricate the main frame and legs; sheetmetal experts will make the seat back and base; upholsterers will complete the foam and soft furnishings; and our assembly workshop provides all the bolts and screws, and assembles the finished product. That’s four suppliers a customer previously had to deal with – complex and time-consuming. Now our customers don’t have to deal with that. They don’t have to build networks with suppliers and worry about a whole series of timelines.”
He added that another advantage of this system to us is the fact that Five Rings builds stronger relationships with suppliers and can accelerate delivery schedules that clients might not otherwise be able to achieve.