Geven diversifies suppliers, grows overseas to double capacity

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Italian seatmaker Geven, preparing for two major economy class seat production programmes for the Airbus A320 family, is transitioning to a multi-sourcing strategy for its suppliers to more than double production to 8,000 passenger seats per month. The company is also in the process of creating final assembly lines within the United States and an as-yet-undecided Asian location.

At present, most of Geven’s sub-manufactured parts come from its internal supplier, Skytecno, also located to the northeast of Naples in Italy’s southwest, managing director Alberto Veneruso tells Runway Girl Network during a visit to the company’s headquarters.

“We opened this factory two years ago to internalise all our mechanical activities, because we were suffering so much with suppliers,” Veneruso says, emphasising that Geven is dedicated to maintaining a 100% on-time delivery record. “We didn’t find any suppliers that were reliable and economically convenient, we decided to create the supplier, Skytecno, which took more than 80% of the mechanical activities.”

Presently, 80% of Geven’s parts come from its internal supplier Skytecno. Image: John Walton

Head of program management Lelio Cirillo highlights that the benefits of internalising so much of Geven’s supplier base come from increased transparency, plus a wider understanding of the competing pressures in designing, producing and customising parts for seats.

An internal rather than external relationship with suppliers is especially beneficial when it comes to the desire from many airlines to customise as much of the seat as possible, while the twin bars of safety regulations and testing requirements have never been higher, Cirillo explains.

Operating its own testing facility, Geven is currently concentrating on its Essenza shorthaul slimline. Image: John Walton

Geven has its own internal sled assembly to speed up the iteration process for dynamic testing.

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The Skytecno operation means costs are also lower, Veneruso says, but “not exactly cheaper in terms of cost per hour, it’s cheaper in terms of efficiency. All the problems we had in terms of scraps with the materials we saw from suppliers were a blind cost.” That efficiency cost often included knock-on effects to the production process.

Yet internal capacity will not be sufficient to enable Geven to double its production from the current 4,000 passenger seats per month rate. “We are reinforcing Skytecno to increase their capacity, but we are preparing also other suppliers that are already working with us,” Veneruso explains. “We are using several programs that we have in course to train them to have them ready for the rampup we have starting from next year.”

At present, “we still have some single-source, and we are activating double-source” suppliers, Veneruso notes. “These sources will be monitored by a team in residence that will follow the suppliers, with some customers as a permanent presence, but with other suppliers as a temporary presence, depending on the risk that we see in the supplier. In parallel we are activating a second source for items that we deem critical, to be sure that we will be always ready to manage eventual occurrences.”

Many of those suppliers already produce the 20% of parts that do not come from Skytecno, and Veneruso is confident that both the suppliers and Geven can manage a greater volume, while reducing risk from depending either on internal Skytecno or external supplier capacity.

Geven managing director Alberto Veneruso is overseeing a major expansion of capacity and facilities. Image: John Walton

Veneruso also tells RGN that the company is currently in the process of establishing a US-based “sales office with progressive growth” for the Americas market, citing spare part management and airline support as key drivers, together with ambition to establish “some of our final assembly line” in the United States.

“We’re trying to do something similar in Asia. While in the US, we have a clear plan already frozen, in Asia we’re still working on the feasibility study, identifying not only the partner but also the way to do it,” whether that involves opening its own factory or engaging in a joint venture with a regional partner, Veneruso says.

“We are trying to understand the best way for us to move in Asia. For sure, the plan is to open a final assembly line in Asia. How we’ll open it is not defined yet. We expect to define it in the next months. We’re discussing it with many possible partners.”

The seatmaker is working to expand production from 4000 seats per month to 8000. Image: John Walton

John Walton travelled from Lyon to Naples as a guest of Geven.

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