Friday, June 19, 2009

Next 787 Hurdle: Production

Now that the first six 787s are on their way to the air within the next couple of months for flight testing and certification, the next major hurdle for Boeing to tackle with this program is ramping up production.
Boeing will produce about 2 787s per month through this year and into 2010 (how far into 2010 is unknown). This is to make sure that any modifications and changes can flow up the supply chain without disrupting production in a significant way.
However Boeing is looking at ways to meet the demand and fulfill the current backlog. They can do this not only by increasing the production on the current line but also starting a 2nd final assembly line. Analyst predict that this 2nd assembly line won't be located in Everett but most likely in the South like South Carolina or Texas where labor won't be a problem to fulfilling the backlog. Pat Shanahan, in speaking to Jon Ostrower made that very clear that customers want an "assurance of delivery." In my opinion the IAM shot itself in the foot when they went on strike in September 2008. The ramifications of the strike will be realized in the next few months.
Now with a 2nd line also give Boeing an opportunity to bring some supplier work in house. In my opinion Boeing doesn't have to give work packages to suppliers in order to supply inventory to the 2nd production line. Instead they could set up a production facility with autoclaves to produce and pre-stuff the fuselage barrels for aircraft produced on the 2nd line. They probably won't do all the sections but I could see Boeing taking over the manufacture of the main fuselage sections and the rear fuselage sections from their current suppliers.

Already some of the suppliers are talking about the difficulties of ramping up production especially when they need more investment in order to do so. If Boeing hopes to produce 10/month or more by 2012 they would not only need to make sure that all production changes are incorporated successfully but that each supplier has all the necessary tooling and work force for the necessary production output which ultimately means more money needed by the suppliers.

Jon Ostrower's interview with Pat Shanahan
Seattle Time's article about production ramp up

1 comment:

Jay in Kitsap said...

It seems prudent to start up a 2nd line for the 789, leaving the current one doing the 788 without trying to adjust. It's not just final assembly but the major components like wings and the barrels. I believe it will not be in Seattle, but probably Texas.

No cut at SC, but the current operation has tapped the current talent base, it would be better to tap a different area.

I'm sure Spirit and MHI will be in the 2nd group, uncertain with the GA partners