Aero Montreal to debut trial supplier programme in 2011

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Quebec's Aero Montreal consortium plans to introduce a one-year pilot programme in 2011 pairing leading original equipment manufacturers with the province's small and medium enterprise (SME) suppliers to improve performance of the Quebec supply chain.

Aero Montreal at the Farnborough Air Show unveiled its "MACH" programme designed to strengthen the competitiveness of Quebec's supply chain, which is largely represented in greater Montreal.

Next year 15 suppliers will partner with six of Montreal's largest OEMs including Bell Helicopter, Bombardier, CAE and Pratt & Whitney in assessing supplier capabilities and organisational performance. Most of those suppliers already have existing relationships with some of the suppliers, says Suzanne Benoit, director general of Aero Montreal.

Benoit's organisation is responsible for ushering the remaining five suppliers through the programme with the aid of MACH's mentor Bombardier.

As MACH evolves suppliers can achieve performance labels, enabling OEMs to recognise their different levels of capabilities.

Quebec's aerospace leaders recognise to preserve Montreal's position as the third largest global aerospace cluster, the region's suppliers need to understand the shift in supply chain management by OEMs to the use of integrators managing lower-tier suppliers.

Noting that the aerospace supply chain is in a mutation worldwide, Benoit of Aero Montreal points to Bombardier using 16-17 integrators for the CSeries based around the world. For Bombardier and other OEMS those integrators are increasingly bearing technological and financial risk, which means they own the supply chain, says Benoit.

She admits Quebec doesn't have a large number of its own integrators and the province aims to both foster the development of native integrators and to ensure its suppliers partner with other large companies selected as integrators by OEMs.

"We want to make sure our SMEs continue to have business. They need to be known to other integrators," says Benoit.

Options to build integrators in Quebec include native suppliers joining forces or targeting the larger integrators. "Our challenge is to go after tier one suppliers wherever they are," says chief executive of the Quebec Aerospace Association Jacques Saada, which represents SMEs. The association is holding discussions with companies in Japan and Mexico about possible partnerships to offer more complete subsystems to OEMs, which could allow some of Quebec's SME's grow their products and services without enlarging their structure.

Building native partnerships and forging ties abroad are ways to sustain both Quebec's and Montreal's strong presence as one of the leading global aerospace clusters.

Aero Montreal's Benoit trumpets the region's strong aerospace capabilities, but also acknowledges Quebec and its largest city Montreal need to advance to retain a presence in future aerospace programmes.