For a long time, I've heard the phrase “the hidden factory” used to describe various forms of waste in a factory, including rework operations and activity.
I was surprised to hear Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun refer to this in a news story using a similar phrase, “shadow factory.”
The article is paywalled, but I was able to read it via Apple News+.
“In our shadow factories, we put more hours into those airplanes than we do to produce it in the first place…that's a metric I know everybody understands.”
That's wild. Spending more hours on planes being “reworked, upgraded, and checked before final delivery. That happens in a shadow factory.”
The Barrons headline refers to “closing” said factories, but that's more metaphorical than literal.
Boeing would need to improve their initial production and assembly processes to ensure “built-in quality” instead of relying on inspection and rework.
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Being able to eliminate repairs and rework requires better process controls and mistake-proofing, among other Lean tactics. It requires better training and supervision, better tool calibration, etc.
I've seen the “hidden factory” in automotive manufacturing. There's Lean automotive lore, with stories that I think go back to Jim Womack, where vehicles coming off the line at a General Motors plant went to “one of two places: minor repair or major repair.”
That's certainly not the Lean ideal, where built-in quality and “doing it right the first time” is what we aspire to. Instead of getting better at reworking planes (or any product) more efficiently, the goal, of course, is to reduce the need for rework through better production processes.
And that plan can't be “hopes and dreams” or “putting pressure on the workers.”
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As Jonathon Andell commented, “Cutting out the detection and containment is not the “cause” of improved quality, it's the RESULT. Calhoun is asking the tail to wag the dog.”
That's very well said.
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