I read today that Boeing started production of the much anticipated 787 Dreamliner.
Many of my fellow blogging friends have previously commented on the method by which Boeing is manufacturing this monster of an airplane. With this said, I don’t want to copy cat them and pummel Boeing for nonsense like this:
Boeing has outsourced most of the 787’s manufacturing to firms in Japan, Italy, South Carolina and elsewhere, while the company itself is concentrating on putting the plane together at its cavernous main facility in Everett, near Seattle.
The main body of the plane will arrive at Boeing’s assembly plant in six large pieces where they will be joined together within a hulking structure called the “MOATT” — mother of all tool towers — in a process its employees call the “big bang.”
The thing that bugs me the most is how the term Lean is being thrown around describing this obvious outsourcing frenzy. OK, maybe I am copy catting and saying the same things as previous bloggers but I am now asking the nice people that work in this industry to please explain how this is Lean? I have not worked in this industry so perhaps I am simply missing something.
I am sure people from Boeing are sick of being compared to Toyota. Fair enough. But please explain what the advantages are of having a supplier in JAPAN make a critical piece of your product only to have to fly this semi finished good across the ocean to Seatttle to get snapped together? Just ask Walmart how all these over seas supply chain tactics are working out.
As talented as a company like Boeing is I find it hard to believe they cannot build these subassemblies in Seattle, or close to Seattle making this whole process far more streamlined and robust. Not to mention far less risky.
I sincerely hope Boeing succeeds and proves all of the doubters (including me) wrong. American industry needs a win since we have not had many as of late. I just hope we don’t have a repeat of what Airbus went through with their A380.
But I have a bad feeling about this one… especially when I read the following words from Scott Strode, Boeing vice president of airplane development and production on the 787 program:
When asked by reporters what worries him the most about the 787, Boeing’s Strode said “time.”
These do not sound like the words of a confident man. Rather they sound like a politician preparing for some slippery debating and possible explaining once things go wrong.