Lean in aerospace sounds different than the lean I know. I don't know the first thing about Boeing really, although I did get to tour one of their plants in 1998. The size and scale of a factory and the complexity of the product are truly staggering.
That said, is Boeing's “lean” effort really all about outsourcing and cutting heads, rather than investing in employees and reducing waste? This article gives that impression, although they've reduced cycle time and consolidated suppliers (hopefully, forging long-term partnerships).
The fact that they have cut so many employees makes me wonder if the remaining workforce can really be motivated to participate in “kaizen” or if they're just as fearful for their jobs as before? It's good that Boeing doesn't have to hire as many employees in their “booms” now, so they don't have to fire as many when they hit their “bust” part of the cycle.
Does this article give an incomplete perspective? Or, is Boeing's lean effort lacking something? Does the boom and bust cycle of A&D mean they can't be like Toyota, which has steady growth and leveled production?
Did you see in the news today that “commercial airplane” orders were down 32%? Last I saw, planes were full and air travel was growing. I remember Jim Womack talking about the long lead times required to get planes and how that led to boom/bust cycles. It's a classic “system dynamics” problem, if you've ever played the MIT Beer Game.
How can air travel usage be “level” while airplane production swings wildly up and down over time? Check out the links here and try to learn about the “bullwhip effect” if you get a chance. That explains why demand variability tends to be amplified as you move upstream in a supply chain.
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