Sun, Jan 28, 2007
Thinking Like Henry Ford... And Toyota
Commercial aircraft manufacturers
are taking a lesson from the auto industry in making their
operations more efficient and flexible.
Airbus has been utilizing a moving production line for over a
year to complete sections for its single-aisle to medium-haul
aircraft, a method employed by successful automakers such as
Toyota, reported Dow Jones Newswires.
Traditional civil aviation industry practice saw aircraft built
in "docks," where poor coordination could result in teams getting
in each other's ways and often lead to significant delays.
The advantages of a moving production line are many.
"The system allows us to reduce production costs and optimize
our workflow, and requires less inventory," said Hans-Henrich
Altfeld. Altfeld heads Airbus' A320 family fuselage production
He added that the production technique, involved at earlier
stages of Airbus' manufacturing process than other manufacturers,
has reduced the time necessary to manufacture a fuselage section by
40 percent to around five days.
Airbus' Eckart Frankenberger has also seen cost reductions with
this new "lean manufacturing" production line of 30 percent,
compared to previous manufacturing techniques. Frankenberger
oversees a facility making sections for the new A380
Quality has improved, while waste has decreased, according to
Airbus officials, allowing the company more flexibility to adjust
production to its order book.
Boeing began using a moving production line system back in 2002
for final assembly of its 737 single-aisle model (shown above).
Last month the company adopted the operation for the final assembly
of the wide-body 777.
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