Airbus and Boeing have signaled a shift in production strategy to make factories more resilient to recent supply disruptions by adding “surge capacity,” even where that means extra cost. The most impressive of these additions is the ability to build and deploy a bespoke engine, a key component in their single-aisle narrowbodies.
The company has also taken the unusual step of dual-sourcing some parts to avoid shortages. In addition, its watchtower supplier risk assessment program has helped it hone in on the best candidates for this highly technical job.
According to the source, it has also made its manufacturing systems more flexible in responding to changing conditions by reducing production time and making parts in-house where possible.
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Despite the improvements, Boeing and Airbus still need to work on delivering jets, including a reliance on suppliers that have been left short of raw materials, staffing, and transport.
One such supplier is CFM, whose supply chain problems have caused the aircraft manufacturer to remove engines from built 737 MAXs to keep the line running.
In the end, a successful aerospace manufacturing strategy is more about resilience than speed. The most resilient factories have a solid operating plan and the physical or intellectual resources needed to meet that plan.
The right tools and techniques, coupled with a sound business case, can help companies achieve a return on investment far exceeding that of their competitors.