Boeing’s "Elegantly" Screwed Up Supply Chain
Here’s another dumb quote the E.E. folks didn’t point out:
“Some people may say this plane is ugly, but I call it an elegant logistics solution,” says Mike Bunney, the Boeing executive in charge of managing the Dreamliner’s transportation system.
It might be “elegant” (really???) but the logistics problem is one of Boeing’s own creation. Boeing decided to build huge subcomponents in Kansas. Boeing chose to do final assembly in Washington. Boeing chose to not see how crazy that seems, especially when you have to build your own special plane to haul those parts around. Want to see what this distance looks like (via Google Maps)?
Back at MIT in 1998, I heard Jim Womack tell a story about getting “fired” by Boeing as a consultant, leading him to start the Lean Enterprise Institute. One of the things Womack pointed out to them was that you shouldn’t have such a huge, complex supply chain, that it wasn’t lean. Boeing never learned and now Alan Mulally is hailed as a lean genius who will save Ford. Really???
Earlier, we read about how Toyota put 21 supplier factories right on site. The difference between Boeing and Toyota is pretty striking, eh?
Here’s another article about Toyota’s new San Antonio plant, via Motor Trend magazine. From the article:
That’s right, there are 21 separate manufacturing plants on site along with the much bigger Tundra assembly plant. Beyond the cost savings (no additional packaging, storage, freight, or environmental cost), at the slightest hint of a product-fitment issue, line workers (called team members) can stop the line, pick up a phone, and contact the lead foreman at the supplier plant in the next building. Within two minutes, that foreman can return to his own plant to make the fix. This means most supplier issues are virtually cost-effective in-house fixes.
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I wonder how that problem solving works at Boeing?
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