November 2004 
Volume 03, Issue 7 
Integrated Defense Systems

Growth in the Northwest

IDS' Puget Sound operations boost efficiency, profits amid new business wins


Growth in the northwest To many, the Puget Sound area in Washington state is known for natural beauty, fresh seafood and coffee. For others, Boeing springs to mind.

Although the public may generally think that Boeing in the Puget Sound region means commercial jetliners, there are thousands of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems employees working on military contracts and cutting-edge technology. They've made it their mission to ensure Puget Sound is known for a few other things as well: reduced costs, increased profitability and new business.

"By incorporating Lean strategies, utilizing High Performance Work Teams and more efficiently using the site's capital assets and facilities, we are becoming more profitable, which in turn equates to new business," said Allen Ashby, IDS vice president and general manager of Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance Systems (AISR), and senior site executive for Puget Sound.

"Our intellectual capital, specialized expertise and firm grip on cost control makes Puget Sound a great place to do business," he added. "The Puget Sound team's effort to help secure the recent Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft competition win is a prime example of what the site has to offer."

The IDS Puget Sound site hosts more than 9,000 employees at its Kent Space Center and Developmental Center campuses, including members of Shared Services Group, Phantom Works, Connexion by Boeing and Boeing Commercial Airplanes people, as well as customer and supplier representatives. In the past 18 months, IDS Puget Sound has added nearly 900 people through new hires and realignment.

While the majority of its employees are engineers and software designers, the site is also home to 800 machinists who build parts for F/A-22 Raptor and modify the 737 Wedgetail and Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS) aircraft. In addition, the Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft contract for the U.S. Navy's next generation anti-submarine aircraft will generate approximately 1,200 jobs, mostly in engineering, in the Puget Sound region over the next two years.


With its diverse group of people and programs, IDS Puget Sound supports a number of the IDS business units, including Aerospace Support, Air Force Systems, Army Systems, Missile Defense Systems, Naval Systems and Space & Intelligence Systems.

Boeing has been serving military customers longer than any aerospace company in the world, and it all began in Puget Sound. Although the company has gone through changes over the years, the Puget Sound area's role supporting military customers is just as significant in 2004.

Walt Cannon, a Technical Fellow with the 737 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) modification team and 22-year veteran of Boeing in Puget Sound, said he's enjoyed the variety of military and commercial programs during his career in the area.

Growth in the northwest "I've worked on Airborne Early Warning and Control, F/A-22, the Joint Strike Fighter and the B-2 on the defense side and the 777, 7E7 and 757 on the commercial side," Cannon said. "It's been my experience that if you're flexible enough there are always new, exciting opportunities waiting in Puget Sound."

It was nearly 40 years ago that the concept of airborne early warning and control was born in Seattle when Boeing came up with the concept of mating state-of-the-art radar and communication gear to a commercial jetliner platform. Today, Puget Sound is the Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance Enterprise Capability Center for IDS. Within the past few years, Boeing was awarded the Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft, AEW&C Project Wedgetail (Australia), Peace Eagle (Turkey), U.S. AWACS Block 40/45 upgrade and the 767 E-10A. Puget Sound personnel are also working on proposals for significant new work, including the 737 AEW&C for South Korea and also upgrades for AWACS aircraft worldwide.

A key milestone for the site was the successful first flight of Project Wedgetail's 737 AEW&C aircraft for Australia earlier this year. The aircraft is now undergoing a comprehensive airworthiness flight-test program that will last until the end of the year.


Technology and innovation are both inside and outside Puget Sound's facilities. Two of the site's unique assets are parked on the Military Flight Center tarmac at Boeing Field in Seattle. The F/A-22 Flying Test Bed, the first 757 ever built by Boeing, currently is being used to integrate and test the Raptor's avionics. Nearby, Test System-3, a 707 AWACS aircraft, is being used to test hardware and software upgrades.

Just across the street, inside the Developmental Center's Integrated Technology Development Laboratories (ITDL), men and women are busy integrating, testing, developing and researching advanced aircraft and weapon subsystems. The first totally integrated facility of its kind in the United States, the ITDL consists of more than 45 laboratory areas interconnected by a securable fiber optic data-networking system, connected to a rooftop antenna platform, and a sensor integration/test tower overlooking Boeing Field. "The ITDL is truly one of the company's invaluable facilities," said Dan DeVries, ITDL manager.

Among the programs using the ITDL is the Joint Unmanned Combat Air System X-45. Although the program is based in St. Louis, more than 200 employees in Seattle work on the Weapon System, Mission System and System Test teams. Their responsibilities include providing an integrated mission system, engineering support, X-45 future capability development, modeling and simulation, and ground and flight-test support.

Steve Teske, Boeing Joint Unmanned Combat Air System X-45 Business Development manager, appreciates the mix of talented people who migrated from the Joint Strike Fighter as well as other Puget Sound programs to work on the X-45. "We've got a great team and you can't ask for a higher profile program to work on," Teske said.


Growth in the northwest One of the reasons IDS Puget Sound continues to bring in more work is the increased use of Lean processes and techniques at the site. A prime example is the factory where Boeing builds the F/A-22 Raptor's wings and aft fuselage. To reduce costs and improve flow times, the factory has been undergoing a Lean "makeover." That includes wing and aft-fuselage pulse moving lines.

Bob Barnes, Boeing vice president and F/A-22 program manager, said the F/A-22 team took a microscope to every process. "In the end we fundamentally changed the way we build our F/A-22 hardware," he said.

Barnes, who has worked in Puget Sound during a 27-year career, said one of his most special moments occurred when an F/A-22 finally made its way to Seattle for viewing at the program's Developmental Center's factory earlier this year. "I think the event energized not only our 1,000 program employees, but the rest of the site as well," he added.

Some of those energized people work in the Derivative Airplane Programs organization. DAP, which has gained a reputation for innovation and outstanding customer service, provides integrated airlift solutions to military customers, including C-40A, B and C aircraft for the U.S. Navy and Air Force.

Engaged employees are one of the things that make Puget Sound special. Stephen Bressler, IDS Puget Sound Employee Involvement manager, said the site currently has 205 High Performance Work Teams—a 115 percent increase in eight months. The number of people participating on Employee Involvement teams has more than doubled.

Thanks in part to Lean implementation and High Performance Work Teams, IDS Puget Sound has cut scrap and rework in half and cut product defects by 90 percent in the last five years.

As a result of successfully reducing costs and becoming more competitive, the IDS Puget Sound site has seen other positive changes as well.

Last year, the site inaugurated a new Mission Integration Center. Personnel in the 29,000-square-foot facility are providing installation and checkout of initial upgrade packages, test support, maintenance and integration of the company's Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance assets, such as AWACS. The new center allows IDS to utilize its facilities more efficiently as well as bring new work on site.

The site is also the Center of Excellence for titanium, casting design and application, as well as having the largest composite manufacturing capability in the world. IDS programs are making good use of that capability. The Puget Sound Composite Structures team recently fabricated and assembled an X-45C full-scale pole model that will be used for signature testing.

Supporting the company's Vision 2016 mission statement, IDS Puget Sound is focused on core competencies including large-scale systems integration for Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and large-scale composite manufacturing. Among the activities planned is integrating the fighter and bomber programs with AISR for network-centric products and services.

"Large-scale systems integration means we focus on developing, assembling, delivering and providing lifetime product support for our customers around the world," Ashby said. "Boeing is the best in the world today, but we have to work hard to remain the leader. Puget Sound people will continue to play a major role in that effort. Our goal is to find additional ways to contribute and help ensure the company's continued success."


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