This year, I had the opportunity to speak at the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA) Women in Aerospace Conference on May 2nd. Accompanied by nine of my teammates, the overall conference had approximately 300 attendees and 23 speakers from over 108 companies. This marked the first time that a member of the GMN Aerospace team has spoken at this event. My speech was centered around the topic of “Expanding your horizons – Getting outside your comfort zone.”
I’d like to thank GMN for letting me show my determination to go after what I may not be qualified for on paper but have a willingness to learn and be coached on to reach my goals, even when they are outside of my comfort zone or not listed in my job requirements. The more we grow, so does our value. Make a list of your experiences and post it somewhere you can see it daily to remind you of where you’ve been and where you’re striving to go and use that motivation to make it happen.
Within the competitive landscape of the aerospace industry, GMN Aerospace constantly strives to meet our commitments to our customer’s specifications and quality standards. After experiencing an increase in our statement of work over the past year, about 25% of the work produced by GMN Aerospace was supported by short-flow and aircraft on ground (AOG) requests. This translated to our team delivering over two million parts to more than 300 customers in 2018. During this time, the GMN Aerospace team is proud to have maintained a consistent quality rating of 99%.
GMN Aerospace is always looking for ways to improve our internal processes to better meet our customer’s needs and produce products of the highest quality. That’s why we invest heavily in lean manufacturing initiatives such as our Value Stream Team (VST) events and collaborative customer engagement.
In addition to the insights gained from listening to our customers, our team is extremely thankful for the collaboration and teamwork that we experienced with our customers throughout the past year, which played a role in our ability to sustain high quality ratings. As we look to the year ahead of us, we are excited to continue to uphold strong quality ratings and grow our relationships with our customers.
At GMN Aerospace, we continually focus on ways to enhance our lean manufacturing and waste reduction efforts, including activities such as our value-stream team (VST) events in collaboration with our customers. So, when I came into the fold at GM Nameplate (GMN) as the new supervisor of the aerospace quality assurance team, I planned to take measures to make any improvements possible within the quality assurance team and process. During my initial introduction, I observed a team with a high degree of focus and quality of work, with an opportunity for an increase in morale as well.
To begin, my first priority was to listen to my team. Once a week for six weeks, I asked my team members to give me a suggestion on how to improve their work in any way. Following each round of submissions, I immediately acted upon the suggestions that were feasible.
Next, I worked on cross-training the team on the various types of quality assurance that occur within our department. This effort helps to ensure the work load is evenly distributed and allows us to continue to produce high-quality results even when a team member is absent.
I then focused on improvements to our work area, including changing the way that our desk pods are situated and more efficiently organizing supplies. We are forming contingencies to make the best use of the space possible and to create a more peaceful and productive work environment.
In addition, we started to consider reinstating the “Jet Line process,” wherein the responsibility for a single job is split between two team members. The last time this strategy was implemented, we experienced a 20% increase in production. Therefore, moving forward, I am looking into altering a few work protocols in order to fit in the “Jet Line process” within our department.
Finally, I reviewed an ergonomic assessment that had been conducted by workplace performance experts. In this assessment I uncovered instructions to implement a five-minute mini-break. During this five-minute break, you can stretch your body, shift your mood, have a laugh, take a few deep breaths, or change your perspective (by looking somewhere besides your screen). You can use it to recharge your batteries, reduce the negative effects of stress, and reconnect to your sense of well-being.
As a result, I initialized a once-per-hour five-minute mini-break for our group. The response was immediate and extremely positive.
Led by a different team member at the top of each hour, my entire team would stand up and partake in activities such as looking over 20 feet away, using resistance bands, and stretching. Now, I regularly hear laughter and open dialogue on ways we can improve the work performance of the entire group and see team members assisting each other to overcome small challenges.
Overall, the aerospace quality assurance team at GMN is actively and effectively working to increase productivity and morale within our team, and the results have been tangible. As we continue to improve these efforts, we can continue to serve our customers at the highest possible level of quality and service.
During the week of September 10th through the 14th, the GMN Aerospace team participated in another value stream team (VST) event with The Boeing Company, this time focusing on the front-end process flow. The goal of this event was to reduce overall processing time between the Aerospace document review process and the art department by 50%, a flow that is critical for keeping things running smoothly through the plant. Additionally, the group hoped to find solutions that would lead to higher on-time delivery and lower overtime, therefore increasing both external and internal customer satisfaction.
The VST team, led by Brian McCarthy from Boeing for the fifth time and made up of members from both the GMN Aerospace customer service and production teams, worked together to identify wastes and opportunities for improvement throughout the process. Using effective communication and open minds, the group found ways to reduce the current ten-day flow time down to just a quarter of day! But getting to that future state, a state that is proactive, digitally motivated, and based on collaboration and communication, will involve working a series of projects that were identified during the VST event. A number of those projects are already in process (or completed!) and are currently making a positive impact on the overall flow time, particularly between document review and the art department.
VST events are a fantastic way to not only improve existing processes, but also increase the knowledge and understanding of those processes. This VST event was no different. The team at GMN Aerospace is continually committed to making ongoing growth, learning, and communication an integral part of the culture here at GMN.
In March, The Boeing Company celebrated the production of its 10,000th 737 aircraft. This incredible milestone was commemorated at Boeing’s Renton, WA facility, which is also where the airplane was manufactured. A 737 Max 8, the 10,000th 737 was destined for Southwest Airlines, which was extremely fitting as Southwest is the leading customer for and top operator of the 737.
This monumental feat set a new Guinness World Record title for the “Most produced commercial jet aircraft model,” meaning that Boeing had topped itself, as this was a title that the company had already secured in 2006. In production for over 5 decades, the 737 airplane is the best-selling commercial passenger airplane of all time. Even with the remarkable number of planes delivered, over 4,600 737s still remain on order for Boeing, and this year, Boeing increased their 737 production from 47 to 52 airplanes per month.
With a partnership lasting over 20 years, GMN Aerospace has continually worked alongside Boeing to maintain our alignment with cost-down initiatives and production increases, as well as ensure on-time delivery with unparalleled quality and speed. Over the past two years, GMN Aerospace has provided the 737 program with several thousands of orders at over 99% quality.
Therefore, GMN Aerospace was honored when Boeing asked us to produce a commemorative placard for this event. This custom stainless steel placard was placed within the historic aircraft to immortalize this accomplishment.
A spin finish, also known as spotting or engine turning, is a mechanical metal decoration technique that creates visually-striking and repetitive circular patterns. The unique interplay of light as it reflects off the finished metal surface adds movement and enhances the aesthetic appeal of the part. Rising to popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, spin finish was frequently seen in the automotive industry, especially on dashboards and instrumentation panels. However, in recent times, this decorative finish has expanded its reach to include a broad range of industries such as aerospace, appliance, electronics, and more.
Our video below provides a look into the spin finish process accomplished at GM Nameplate’s (GMN) Monroe, NC Division. Primarily performed on aluminum or stainless steel, a mechanical spin finish is always applied on a flat sheet of raw metal. The metal sheet is first lubricated with oil to facilitate uniform spinning and prevent burning of the metal when the abrasive pad is applied. The abrasive pads are mounted on single or multiple spindles that descend on the flat surface to skin the metal in a circular, overlapping pattern. The extent to which the patterns overlap each other can be easily adjusted and altered. There are two types of spin finishes that can be applied:
- Drag spin - Once the spindle(s) descends on the metal, it literally drags across the surface while continuously blading the metal and creating overlapping swirls.
- Spot spin - Once the spindle(s) descends, it blades the metal from a targeted spot, ascends, and then descends again on a spot next to it, creating overlapping or isolated patterns.
The computer numerical control (CNC) spin finish machines at GMN can hold up to seven spindles at a time, and the diameter of each spindle can vary from a minimum of 0.5” to a maximum of 20”. The distance between each spindle and the speed at which they travel across the metal surface can be tailored to achieve different looks. Depending on the design intent, the swirling pattern can range from fine, to heavy, to coarse. Spin finishes can also be applied overall or selectively. For selective finishes, a resin is screen-printed on the metal, which protects the desired areas from the abrasive pad, thus creating contrasting looks within the design. Offering a range of sizes, depths, and pattern intensities, the cosmetic variations that spin finish can produce is truly vast.
Once the spin finish is applied, the metal sheet is run through a washing line to remove the oil from its surface. The sheet is cleaned, dried, and a clear or tinted coating is applied to the surface of the metal. As a subtractive process, spin finish takes away the inherent protective layer from the surface of the metal and hence adding a top coat is extremely crucial to seal the exposed metal for performance considerations. The sheets are visually inspected and then are ready to be formed into the desired shape. Decorative accents such as lithographic, screen, digital, and/or pad printing, along with embossed or debossed graphics, are often added to spin finished parts to further accentuate their beauty and allure.
With decades of custom manufacturing experience and printing capabilities under its belt, GMN has worked with several leading companies including Dell, Ford, Callaway, General Motors, Keurig, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), and Vaio to create stunning spin-finished nameplates and components. Watch the video below to see the spin finish process in action.
GMN recently opened a new, cutting-edge bonding and integration operation in Taiwan. Located in the Kaohsiung Science Park, this 322,000-square-foot facility offers liquid optical bonding (LOCA) and integration for any display, touch screen, or decorative cover glass component, with exceptional efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
We pursued this expansion of GMN’s global services to better align our supply chain with our customer’s bonding and integration needs. To bring this well-rounded and highly-skilled operation into existence, GMN teamed up with Mildex Optical, a long-term touch screen partner. On top of GMN’s existing domestic front panel integration services in Seattle, WA, the addition of this international bonding option allows us to deliver an even more diverse spectrum of solutions for projects that are best suited for bonding in Asia. As a result, we can accommodate a wider range of customers and projects, and better cater to the exact needs of our customers.
Advantages to GMN’s international bonding operation
Since most display and touch screen components are manufactured in Asia, this Taiwan operation allows for manufacturing, bonding, and even assembly to all take place within a close vicinity. Through GMN’s new bonding and integration facility, our customers can take advantage of several benefits including:
- Simplified logistics
- Shortened lead times
- Reduced freight, labor, and component costs
- Accelerated time-to-market
- High-volume production
- Supply chain optimization
GMN pursues the best solutions for our clients’ global manufacturing needs, which involves driving affordability within the supply chain. In addition, by eradicating the need for multiple shipments of materials internationally, this new operation will help to reduce carbon emissions and lower the carbon footprint of a project.
Unwavering quality and service
GMN is fiercely dedicated to providing superior quality and service to our customers, and at this new Taiwan facility, our customers can expect the same level of quality as they experience domestically. For decades we have worked with display integration and bonding technologies for applications in industries spanning from medical, to agriculture, to aerospace. Additionally, as a licensed converter of DuPont’s Vertak® bonding technology, GMN can supply customers with the latest in LOCA display enhancements.
This new venture enables GMN to offer customers the convenience of local service, with the worldwide access to custom solutions. We will work with our customers to select and integrate the most fitting touch screen, display, or decorative cover glass for their application. GMN continually strives to go above and beyond to meet the needs of our customers, which we will continue to do with the addition of our new bonding and assembly operation in Taiwan.
For more information on our front panel integration and bonding capabilities, click here.
Over-molding is a manufacturing process that combines two different types of plastic together to create a single part. Typically, this involves the use of a hard plastic and a softer plastic (often rubberized). Alternatively, this method can be used to bind two hard plastics together that are different colors. Overall, this is a process that takes various materials with different properties and combines them into a single molded component.
The over-molding process is accomplished through the use of two separate injection molds. To begin, the substrate, which is the first shot (and usually a rigid plastic), is made using the first injection tool. The rigid part is then removed and placed into a separate injection mold tool where the second shot, or over-mold, is molded over the first part. In most cases, mechanical bonds are designed into the part to allow the over-mold to stick to the substrate. These mechanical bonds are formed by creating areas in the substrate (first shot) where the second shot (over-mold) would flow into during the over-molding process.
Over-molding is a value-added technology that is used to provide additional functionality and decoration to parts. It is most often used for its durability for the creation of ruggedized products. It can also be utilized for decoration to provide benefits such as increased aesthetics and functionality. Over-molding can give a product a soft, rubberized feel, making it much more comfortable to handle compared to hard plastic. It also allows for hard edges to be smoothed over and rounded. The main functionality benefit of over-molding is the ruggedized and non-slip surface that it creates, which keeps products safe in extreme environments. Additional benefits include the reduction of unwanted vibrations or noise, increased protection against liquids, and additional brand identity opportunities.
As a technology utilized throughout a variety of industries, such as aerospace, over-molding is an excellent option for customers who are interested in soft-touch handles, grips, etc., or multi-colored buttons, switches, or knobs for their products. Additionally, this process is a great option for sealing or gaskets on parts. Over-molding a gasket on a plastic substrate bonds the gasket material to the substrate, which helps to prevent moisture ingression, as opposed to using a rubber or die-cut gasket that is pressed/held together by screws
Common applications for over-molding within the aerospace industry include aircraft seating, lavatories, stowage bin latches, handles, and user interface switches. Instead of having to create two different parts that then require additional assembly to fasten them together, over-molding allows for multiple parts to be formed into a single part at once. Since the second shot is molded over the first substrate, the bond created between the two is much stronger and more durable, as well as results in a clean design. The key advantages that aerospace applications take away from over-molding include:
- Decreased weight
- Increased strength and durability
- Enhanced industrial design
- Elimination of additional manufacturing and assembly steps
- Reduced manufacturing and assembly time
Since this process involves the use of two separate tools, it is a great method for lower volume programs, but is inefficient for high-volume projects. If you’re looking for a high-volume over-molded part, a better technology to employ would be two-shot molding, which uses a single two-shot mold.
SEATTLE, Washington (May 16, 2018) – GMN Aerospace announced today that it has received the 2017 Boeing Performance Excellence Award. The Boeing Company issues the award annually to recognize suppliers who have achieved superior performance. GMN Aerospace maintained a Silver composite performance rating for each month of the 12-month performance period, from October 2016 to September 2017.
Recipients of the award must attain a certain fixed level of quality and delivery over the course of the year. GMN Aerospace maintained 99% quality and on-time delivery ratings across the 1.6 million parts shipped to Boeing in 2017. Furthermore, approximately 25 percent of GMN Aerospace’s work for Boeing is short flow or aircraft on ground (AOG) requirements, and 100 percent of those parts have been delivered on time, as requested.
This latest award marks the tenth consecutive Boeing Performance Excellence Award that GMN Aerospace has received in the past ten years. This achievement represents not only GMN Aerospace’s dependable quality and delivery standards and consistent fulfillment of customer needs over the past decade, but also the company’s dedication to its customers overall. GMN Aerospace has proven their success in understanding what is important to a customer and then making it a priority to effectively execute on those commitments.
Previous awards that GMN Aerospace has earned from Boeing include Supplier of the Year (2009, 2010, 2011, 2016) and the Excellence in Advocacy Award (2015, 2016). GMN Aerospace supports all programs within the over 40 Boeing global locations for Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA), Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS), and Boeing Global Services (BGS). In addition to the 80K active Boeing part numbers for mandatory markers and placards, the company provides Boeing with a variety of products including injection-molded plastics, die-cut components, electronic components, value-added assemblies, and more. Throughout the years, GMN has worked alongside Boeing as more than a supplier, but as a partner, to continuously improve GMN’s processes and deliverables in order to comply with Boeing’s cost-down initiatives and to meet quick-turn delivery requirements.
“At GMN Aerospace, we operate 24/7 in an environment where meeting increased efficiencies and customer’s cost objectives are front and center,” said Paul Michaels, Director of GMN Aerospace. “We truly celebrate this ‘Decade of Excellence’ as a united team – with a culture focused on continuous improvements and passionate about customer engagement. To be recognized with this amazing award for ten consecutive years is a testament to not only the commitment of everyone on the team, but to our strong collaboration with The Boeing Company.”
About GMN Aerospace
For more than 50 years, GMN has been serving the Aerospace industry with mandatory markings and placards, and other custom components. Today, GMN is equipped with AS9100D certification and has expanded its capabilities to include front panel display integration, switch technologies, plastics, large format graphics, and more. Through the years GMN has received numerous accolades, including winning the coveted Supplier of the Year award from The Boeing Company four times. To learn more about why GMN is the trusted supplier of leading aerospace and aircraft manufacturers, visit our website www.gmnameplate.com/aerospace.
GM Nameplate’s (GMN) aerospace group, GMN Aerospace, was recognized with the 2017 Boeing Performance Excellence Award by The Boeing Company. This latest honor instills a great sense of pride within GMN because it marks the tenth consecutive year that we have received this award. This achievement represents the high standards GMN has operated at and maintained over the past decade in order to consistently align with our customer’s needs and adhere to strict quality and delivery requirements.
To learn more, read our full press release GMN Aerospace receives tenth consecutive Boeing Performance Excellence Award