by Danny Vong
What happens when The Boeing Company, a global leader in aerospace, and GMN, a three-time consecutive Boeing Supplier of the Year recipient partner? The result is two companies bound by a shared destiny and both must work together in order to succeed. And so when The Boeing Company challenged its suppliers to take on Lean initiatives to better enable Boeing to compete, it was only natural that GMN Aerospace would be one of the first to answer that call.
In 2012, GMN Aerospace first partnered with The Boeing Company to hold a Value Stream Team event of GMN Aerospace’s manufacturing processes. The first event led to the launch of a new designated Aerospace fabrication cell at GMN Aerospace. The Value Stream Team event was so successful that GMN Aerospace wanted to do another VST focused on our inspection and quality compliance department.
The Value Stream Team is guided by Lean Manufacturing and Kaizen concepts – both focused on cutting wastes while improving productivity. Made famous by Toyota and their production system, Kaizen is the standardization and continuous improvement of processes in the pursuit of eliminating waste. Waste refers to any activity that a customer isn’t willing to pay for. In other words, it’s any activity that doesn’t change the form or function of the product. When you eliminate waste you produce a more competitive product at a lower cost – must have in today’s highly competitive market.
The second VST event was held six months ago. The team assembled included QC inspectors, an IT specialist, material specialist, administrative assistant, aerospace QC manager, production manager, director of GMN Aerospace and two VST coaches from The Boeing Company. The main focus of the workshop was the aerospace QC department. The critical issue was that the number of parts and tickets were creating a bottleneck in the production process. More items were coming in then the team could keep up with, holding up the entire production line and resulting in overtime. The focus of the VST participant was looking for ways to cut the time down per job and eliminating wastes.
Throughout the VST workshop, the team brainstormed solutions to streamline the process which included eliminating redundant work, increasing desk space, reorganizing desks and fixtures to decrease distance, automating paperwork, and reorganizing responsibilities to result in closer cycle times. Once the next steps were decided, the team worked to put the changes in action.
At first there was some skepticism about the VST producing any tangible results. Maybe the workshop itself was a “waste” and ought to be eliminated? The results say otherwise. To date, the workstation has saved over 1,000 labor hours; a jaw-dropping improvement. With improved production processes from GMN Aerospace, The Boeing Company can continue to depend on GMN Aerospace’s support to deliver a better product to their customers.