Boeing Still Improving with Lean
Here’s a Wall St. analyst who is actually high on their lean efforts:
“The key behind lean manufacturing is not just the margin improvement, but the fact that you can produce more with the same infrastructure,” said J.B. Groh, an analyst with D.A. Davidson & Co.
I didn’t know Wall St. knew about lean, unless it somehow meant mass layoffs. Should we be cynical and think something must be wrong if the Street likes their efforts? Nah, it’s the holiday season.
Some highlights of their efforts:
Under former Commercial Airplanes chief Alan Mulally, now chief executive at Ford Motor Co. (F), Boeing spent years working to increase manufacturing efficiency after the company’s last bottleneck in the late 1990s. When suppliers couldn’t keep up with production, Boeing was forced to shut down its 747 production line for 20 days and delay 737 deliveries.Since then, it has closed or sold some factory space, redesigned existing space to be more efficient, outsourced more work to contractors and implemented a moving production line in its Renton 737 plant.In Everett, it is also starting a moving 777 production line, in which the planes are arranged tail-to-nose rather than parked in individual bays.“As they bring up these new airplanes and move to a single production line, not only is the process itself more efficient, but it takes up less than a third of the space than using the old batch method,” said Robert Toomey, an analyst for E. K. Riley Advisors.Design and engineering offices have also been moved adjacent to the factory floor to facilitate collaboration and efficiency, Heathers said.