Instructions: For this assignment, you will be given a business to perform an analysis. Your paper must be central to the topics of Operations Management and Lean Processes. By Week 3 of the course the instructor will provide the name of an organization to perform your research. The data in your study needs to be supported by acceptable references (Wikipedia, Motleyfool.com and Blogs are not acceptable references). You are to use your knowledge of Operations Management and Lean Processes as the basis for your study. Your study will be graded using the criteria noted in the rubric below. Please note that this is a short writing assignment. This exercise will test your ability to provide a concise analysis that targets all the pertinent information to support a position/strategy. You will find it tough to limit the size of your paper to 5 pages total, but in business you will routinely be asked to provide concise reports.
Operations Management and Lean Processes at Boeing
Operations management has evolved over the years, with different organizations embracing different technologies to ensure a reduction in cost and an increase in production and quality with environmental and ethical considerations ion mind. Boeing is one of the companies that has seen an evolution in terms of the manufacturing approaches employed including the introduction of lean processing. The company is the largest manufacturer of aircraft in the world, running in up to 145 companies globally and having employed more than 179,000 employees. The adoption of lean manufacturing in the company has proven to be highly effective in reducing cost and promoting of value adding approaches. As such, this paper is going to review operations management and lean processes adopted by Boeing and how they have facilitated the company’s elevation into the greatest among its kind.
Operations Management and Lean Processes
Operations management is part of the management process within a business environment that is mainly concerned with organizing, planning, and supervising manufacturing, production, and service provision (Mahadevan, 2010). As such, this is part of an organizations management that is focused on the delivery of its goods or services, ensuring that the inputs are successfully turned into the outputs. These inputs range from the equipment used, raw materials, human resources, to the technologies employed. On the other hand, Lean Manufacturing refers to service and manufacturing operations within an organization, with eliminated or reduced waste (Mahadevan, 2010). This type of manufacturing is aimed at increasing the efficiency and increasing value adding steps. This type of manufacturing revolves around the concept that consumers are only willing to spend on the value adding steps that are used in the manufacturing or delivering of certain goods or services. As such, any other costs that are not adding value are incurred by the company and have a negative impact on the manufacturer’s margins.
In the contemporary society, most organizations have come to the realization of the importance of wasted resources elimination, customer satisfaction, and improved quality in facilitating the sustainability of the competitiveness of a business. Companies are also faced with increased pressure to inventory, operating, and manufacturing costs (Mahadevan, 2010). Stakeholders increasingly call for an increase in efficiencies across all industries including services industries. One of the major challenges that organizations are faced with in promoting such efficiencies involves the difficulty of adopting the different technologies and concepts into different industries. For the principles of lean manufacturing to be successfully implemented into an organization, there is need to promote a culture of improvement in the company’s culture, lean thinking, quality focus, and customer satisfaction (Mahadevan, 2010). As such, the top management should facilitate the shift in culture and motivate employees from all the layers of the organization to embrace the changes.
Operations Management and Lean Processes at Boeing
Boeing boasts of its short final assembly time of its jets. This is considered the shortest time as com-pared to any other organization that manufactures commercial jets. One of the company’s products, the 737 is a large plane, whose assembly is not a simple task. Up to 367,000 parts that include rivets, bolts, among other fasteners are put together in addition to the 36 miles of electric wire to form a single Boeing 737 (Krugman & Wells, 2012). The company’s success in promoting efficiency and reducing the time that it takes to make their aircraft is largely attributed to their adoption of lean production. Lean manufacturing was introduced in the company in 1993 and faced a lot of challenges owing to the company’s culture and manufacturing traditions. Nevertheless, as a result of increased competition, the company was forced to adopt lean manufacturing in order to reduce costs and increase the profit margins while satisfying its customers.
One of the techniques that has been employed by Boeing in Lean manufacturing is the reduction of set-up times (Wishes, 2013). In this case, set-up time is the time it takes to change from a single activity to another. To reduce set-up times, the company allows for point-of-use staging of kits containing parts and tools that are required by the workers. This saves the workers time as they do not have to go around looking for such parts and tools, an aspect that increases the speed of production. In addition, such delivery of parts and tools is done in a fashionable whereby the parts are kept in grey boxes, the tools in blue ones, and hazardous materials in green ones (Grunberg & Moore, 2015). This is to prevent confusion and to ensure that the workers promote efficiency, concentrating on the assembly process.
In addition to the reduction of the set-up time, Boeing uses visual control systems to promote communication across the operations floor (Wishes, 2013). Case in point, above each workstation there is an Andon light that shows the state of such a workstation in terms of whether it is broken down, waiting for work, or working. These Andon help save resources by allowing for the stopping of an entire line in the cases where a single station breaks down. They develop visual cues that inform the workers of the source of problems, allowing for timely addressing of such problems. The layout of the assembly floor at Boeing is also another Leaning processing technique as it makes it easier to move about. Lines and bays have been marked on the floor making the routes obvious and easier to locate even as the distance to travel is reduced (Krugman & Wells, 2012). Unlike the common 11 days plane production models, Boeing’s production of the 737 only involves eight positions of “flow day”.
The company has also adopted systems for just in time delivery, which ensure limited inventory. By reducing inventory, the number of complications that are experienced are also reduced (Grunberg & Moore, 2015). The work processes at Boeing are also standardized such that instructions for each job have been established and the mechanics work procedures have been standardized. Moreover, the continuous production flow system promotes efficiency. This involves ensuring that the aircraft moves past the parts and employees, allowing them to direct al their attention towards assembly as opposed to being required to look for things. Importantly, any time there arises a problem within the production line, an action team is formed, allowing for the establishment of a permanent solution to the problem (Grunberg & Moore, 2015). This process involves all personnel including engineers, managers, and line workers, who are always in close proximity, allowing for fast and proper communication.
In as much as Boeing has made major strides in adopting lean manufacturing, there are various elements and techniques that they could adopt to facilitate further efficiency. One of the elements that ought to be expanded on is the Total Quality Control (TQC) feature as this will allow for improvements in the reliability and quality of the aircrafts that the company produces through enhancing technology innovation, layout planning, and process planning (Wishes, 2013). Case in point, application of the “Design for Manufacturing” concept at the planning and design stage would facilitate increased gain from downstream improvement. Another lean production element that should be adopted by the company is automation as most of the functions are still manually handled. Through automation, the process of preventing failure and resource wastage would be strengthened via timely detection of error and proofing, continuous production, and abnormal management (Wishes, 2013). In addition, it is important for the company to consider promoting learning through increased commitment of the top management and the involvement of all parties within the company. Focusing and alignment of resources would allow for the establishment of a learning organization and promotion of consistent improvement. This would allow the company to ensure increased competence in the aerospace manufacturing market, which is highly competitive.
It is evident that Boeing
has put in place proper initiatives to facilitate lean manufacturing. The
company’s devotion towards promoting efficiency through reduced inventory,
standardized work standards, timely response to problems, and proper work flow
has allowed it to stand out as a major competitor in the manufacturing and
supply of aircraft. Increased success would be ensured if the company directed
more resources towards facilitating further learning as lean production is an
ever-growing section that requires increased invention to curb costs and
increase productivity without compromising quality and reliability of the
Grunberg, L., & Moore, S. (2015). Emerging from Turbulence: Boeing and Stories of the American Workplace Today. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Krugman, P., & Wells, R. (2012). CourseSmart E-Book for Macroeconomics: A PDF-style E-Book (3rd ed.). London: Worth Publishers.
Mahadevan, B. (2010). Operations Management: Theory and Practice. Chennai: Pearson Education.
Wishes, J. W. (2013). The Six Sigma Toolbox: 54 Improvement Tools and When to Use Them. Toronto: Productive Publications.