Ramping Up: How S&K Aerospace established multiple locations in Saudi Arabia to support the Royal Saudi Air Force’s F-15 supply needs
In September 2017, S&K Aerospace, LLC (SKA) won the F-15 Supply Services Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract valued at $559 million. This contract requires SKA to provide logistics support and deliver consumables for the Royal Saudi Air Force’s (RSAF) F-15 fleet, as well as operate and maintain print plant and print-on-demand facilities under the contract.
In order to accomplish this complex mission, SKA needed to establish a large footprint in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) with warehousing in multiple cities on opposite sides of the country. Because SKA received no transfer of parts or equipment from the previous contractor, they started the contract with absolutely zero inventory. This posed a real challenge and required great determination and ingenuity to overcome.
Luckily, SKA has a Middle East Branch (MEB) office located in Riyadh and headed by Mr. Mohammed Samarah, General Manager. He and a small group of professionals were instrumental in finding the critical facilities and other assets that were needed to get the program up and running. Different time zones required many early morning and late-night meetings as they navigated through the details of establishing operations inside the Kingdom.
The MEB Team identified buildings and negotiated warehouse leases for facilities located in Dammam, Khamis-Mushait, Taif, and Tabuk. As seen on the map above, the operation is geographically dispersed. There are locations near international trouble spots like Iran, Sudan, and Yemen.
With the warehouse leases negotiated, SKA now had space to store F-15 parts, but the warehouses were completely empty and unimproved buildings. SKA started construction of office spaces, fire suppression systems, network wiring, security systems, racks, shelving, bins, forklifts, and any other furniture or equipment that was deemed necessary to make the contract successful. The MEB Team also began hiring warehouse personnel consisting of Saudi Nationals and expats from a multitude of countries including U.S., India, Philippines, and Pakistan, to name a few. The team also identified and hired Saudi Nationals in the key positions of Site Managers to assist in getting each location set up and the new employees integrated and trained.
While all of this was happening in KSA, the U.S. based team, led by Mr. Will Carroll, F-15 Program Manager, was busy setting up DLA procurement accounts, shipping accounts, developing processes, and getting their management information system up and operational. SKA has teamed with S&K Logistics Services and PARTS, Inc. for the contract.
When starting a contract with zero transition stock or inventory, the U.S. Team was thrown into a buying frenzy trying to get initial lay-in stock procured. The contract required buying items to support the 18,000 NSN parts catalog. These items were delivered to SKA’s Warner Robins warehouse where they were inspected by the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) prior to shipment to KSA. There were numerous hurdles that had to be overcome to get the items inspected and shipped to KSA, but the team managed to overcome them and get their first shipments sent to Dammam. That was the start of a massive material flow that continues today as SKA enters the second option period of the contract.
Back in KSA, SKA hired U.S. Expat, Mr. Danny Ortiz, as the F-15 Deputy Program Manager. When he took over the coordination of the warehouses and manpower procurement in KSA, things really started to take off. Each Site Manager has prior relationships with the RSAF and knows how the RSAF supply system works. The actual warehouse locations were selected based on building availability, proximity to supported air bases, and accessibility. Each of the warehouse sites were equipped with state-of-the-art shelving and storage solutions, maximizing space utilization, and creating warehouse flow to optimize material movement. Their goal was to achieve the contract mandated 94% Bin Fill Rate (BFR) as quickly as possible.
The primary distribution warehouse is in Dammam. This warehouse receives, stores, and distributes items to its supported air base in Dhahran and distributes items to the other warehouses to support their assigned air bases. SKA’s receiving sections are responsible for the receipt of all material arriving from local and international sources. These materials are inspected for kind, count, and condition, and processed for storage. Storage and Issue Teams store and inventory items and pull needed items on demand. Inventory Analysts consolidate air base shop inventories and establish pick tickets for storage and issue pick teams. The Shipping Section is responsible for material distribution and coordinating with transportation companies and/or bench stock personnel for air base deliveries. Bench Stock Personnel perform shop inventories and deliver material within the established performance objective of bin refill within 48 hours and an overall 94% BFR. It is thanks to the above process and the entire SKA Team that this contract was able to achieve 100% BFR´s at all sites and can maintain an average of 98% BFR each day.
During the first contract year, the KSA staff established a great working relationship with their RSAF client. They worked together with their respective RSAF Base Supply staff and established a contract-wide standardized bin labeling convention. This clearly identified bins supported under the contract, bin contents, maximum bin quantities, and identified shelf-life items. Thanks to this labeling convention, KSA personnel were able to perform shop inventories more efficiently which, in turn, decreased bin fill wait times. SKA can now refill a bin in less than the required 48 hours.
S&K Program Management and the KSA Bench Stock teams identified limiting factors in the original contract catalog. These limiting factors were presented to the RSAF, and these mission critical issues paved the way for a Base-wide site survey in September of 2019. It was during these site surveys that SKA leadership, along with the RSAF client, were able to establish new part requirements tailored to the real-world needs of the RSAF mission.
The KSA team is currently in the process of implementing the new catalog requirements which entail updating racks, bins, and labels at the bases to support over 5,000 additional bin locations. Bench Stock Teams have already completed these updates within 30 days of the new catalog being put on contract. KSA Teams inspected and updated over 90 air base shops, and almost 17,500 shop bins were updated or set-up to meet the new requirements. All new catalog material that arrived from local and U.S. sources have been distributed to their respective sites and are now being delivered to the air bases to support the new bin requirements. All of this was achieved six weeks ahead of the 90-day grace period provided by the contract.
The KSA team has worked extremely hard to achieve the goals and tasks assigned. Their ability to function as part of an international operation and to maintain outstanding relationships with the RSAF and the U.S. Government Program Management Office make this a total team achievement. The KSA Team’s sense of ownership and enthusiasm is key to providing the high quality and exceptional service that exemplifies the S&K brand.