Boeing brings efficiency to outsourced plants
New leadership provided by Boeing at two outsourced plants results in higher efficiency and timely delivery of fuselage parts.
The Boeing 787 was scheduled to embark on its first flight in April 2007. Fourteen months later, the aircraft has not left the tarmac for a commercial flight. The two factories established to aid the production of the 787 Dreamliner fuselage sections lacked efficiency, and had to ship an incomplete product to the main Everett, Wash., assembling plant.
However, according to the Seattle Times , both plants are operating efficiently, thanks to a group of Boeing and ex-Boeing managers who are providing some much-needed direction for the outsourced parts. The relative inexperience of the two local factories in the aerospace industry prompted the introduction of contract workers and mechanics borrowed from Boeing’s aircraft maintenance site in San Antonio. About two-thirds of the Dreamliner’s fuselage is assembled at these two plants. Just last week the rear fuselage of Dreamliner No. 4 was delivered to Everett with the 98% of the structure complete and 87% of the systems installed. The impact of the new plant chiefs is easy to understand when these numbers are compared to the fuselage shipped last year which only had 16% of its structure completed and no systems installed.
The ultimate goal is to deliver a completely equipped fuselage to Everett in the near future. With the new founded efficiency of both plants, this task now seems attainable.
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After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.