Volume 03, Issue 6
Image right: Super-plastic forming is a specialty production process of the Emergent Manufacturing Facility in Auburn. The process involves heating a 1,200-ton press to 1,700 degress Fahrenheit (927 C) to form metals such as titanium and aluminum into lightweight, complex shapes that are easy to trim.
It looks easy on paper
Never mind that the practice helped create a Lean workflow in a factory. The implication was clear: In the often culturally diverse journey toward Lean, sometimes you must take basic steps to get where you're going.
Kato is part of a team of Commercial Airplanes employees working with suppliers in China to build a Lean production framework that will help Boeing continue to sell airplanes in that country and around the world.
Relatively inconspicuous in what they do, the team's efforts in Lean training provide tremendous possibilities for Boeing, its employees and its Chinese suppliers. For Boeing, Lean Manufacturing can lower production costs that translate into lower airplane prices. For employees, the sale of airplanes leads to long-term company growth and job stability.
GO WITH THE FLOW
Though perhaps slightly less orchestrated than a superior ballet performance, the feeder line on the 777 commercial airplane operates with much the same precision-all the right moves at just the right moment-as it delivers subassemblies to support production of the huge twinjet.
And that execution is key to achieving the vision of a Lean enterprise in Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Mary Dowell said. As 777 factory superintendent in Everett, Wash., she has a front-row seat to the show.
"One of our goals is to put the airplane together in big chunks," Dowell said about the future of airplane assembly. "We will have fewer parts in final assembly, so it becomes a matter of integrating and testing the large sections together."
Still crossing bridges
Pitino's advice is well heeded. Over the years, Boeing has worked diligently to build working relationships with airline customers, laying foundations that have driven growth and profitability.
Consider the route charted by ANA (All Nippon Airways) and Boeing that dates back some 40 years, from the carrier's addition of 727 jetliners in 1964 to this year's launch order for the 7E7 Dreamliner.
This business relationship exemplifies how Boeing encourages a collaborative environment that helps airlines succeed. Keeping a communications bridge open and encouraging ongoing teamwork have become even more critical in today's competitive environment.
5 candles on the cake
In honoring important dates, the fifth anniversary is designated as the wood anniversary-admittedly less impressive than silver at 25 or gold at 50. But in the life of an airplane program, the five-year-mark is a major milestone. By then the model has been time-tested in revenue service.
The Boeing 717 program, with more than 130 of its 717-200 series aircraft now in operation at eight airlines, is in the midst of celebrating a series of key five-year anniversaries. In these past five years, the airplane has made good on its promise to deliver deep savings for carriers in need of 100-seat aircraft capable of economical, high-cycle operations.
That performance capped a tremendous amount of work by people on the 717 program over the years.
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