There have been a number of recent articles that touch on some recurring Operations Room themes.
- First up, big planes! We have had a number of articles on the travails of the Boeing company in launching the 787. Now the Wall Street Journal reports that they have reached an important milestone (Boeing Hits a Milestone, Jun 8).
Boeing Co. rolled out the first 787 Dreamliner from its main factory that won’t need major additional work before delivery, a long-delayed milestone that reflects streamlined manufacturing of the company’s flagship passenger jet but also points up the program’s enormous costs. …
Assembling the 787—the first jetliner made from mostly carbon-fiber composites—involves tens of thousands of steps, from installing galleys and complex electrical systems to fusing the wings to the body. Boeing, which started making 787s in 2007, had been sending them out of its main factory in Everett, Wash., with many of those steps—sometimes thousands—unfinished, due to parts shortages and design changes on the advanced new jet. Those planes went to a separate facility in Boeing’s giant campus to be completed.
The plane that rolled out this week—Boeing’s 66th Dreamliner—skipped that costly step. Workers had only around 300 mostly small assembly tasks left to complete, about 100 more than the company’s goal, but far fewer than the roughly 6,000 on the earliest Dreamliners, said a person familiar with the plane.
Boeing, in a statement, confirmed the plane “will be the first airplane to go straight into preflight operations” from the Everett plant. The minor tasks left for plane No. 66 can be handled outside of the factory before being prepared for delivery.
Note that this suggests that Boeing has now worked through (or at least isn’t adding to) the massive amount of inventory they had sitting around at the end of last summer.
- Next up, US manufacturing. We have had many posts discussing what it takes for firms to be successful in making things in America (for a sample, see here, here, here, and here). Now we have another fun example. Bloomberg TV has a piece on lingerie maker Hanky Panky (Behind the World’s Most Comfortable Thong, Jun 6). They sew all their products in New York City. Why? Quality and control. They feel they would not be able to assure as high a quality product if they took production overseas.
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- Finally, we would be remiss if we did not note that Slate has been doing a series of articles on Operations Management. So far they have covered queuing with Dick Larson, The Goal and operations strategy at Southwest Airlines. See here for the list of articles. I have to admit that so far the series has been a little disappointing. It has largely covered topics that range from standard to long in the tooth.