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Moving Assembly Lines = "Lean?"

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Airbus cuts costs by learning from auto industry – MarketWatch

Here's an article that talks about Airbus and their lean efforts.

The moving production line, which Airbus calls “lean manufacturing,” breaks with previous civil aviation industry practice whereby aircraft were built in “docks.”

I'm curious if this is the only “lean” method they have adopted? It's possible that Airbus has made improvements, but a moving line isn't necessarily “lean.”

That said, Airbus credits lean (or the moving line) with a number of measurable improvements. It's the improvement that matters.

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“The system allows us to reduce production costs and optimize our workflow, and requires less inventory,” Hans-Henrich Altfeld, head of Airbus A320 family fuselage production center, told a group of journalists.

Altfeld said the new production technique has reduced the time necessary to manufacture a fuselage section by 40% to around five days, thanks to a system where the sections move sideways through the plant on rails at a speed of one meter an hour.

Quality has improved, and there's now less waste, Airbus officials said, and the company now has much greater flexibility to adjust production to its order book.

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… the cost reduction compared to previous manufacturing techniques is about 30%.

Does anyone have better insights to share on Airbus and lean?

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent book is an anthology titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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