Evolution to Lean Manufacturing A Case Study of Boeing of Spokane
The evolution of a manufacturing organization toward “Lean” manufacturing does not necessarily come cheaply or quickly. It is the experience at Boeing that technology and different visions can dramatically impact the evolutionary process-consuming great amounts of time and resources. The Boeing of Spokane case study, where aircraft floor panels are manufactured1, is but one of several case studies that suggests moving to “Lean” manufacturing is usually done in large steps, not small ones. These initial steps can be costly unless the systems (equipment and workforce) are flexible. Workforce flexibility is dependent on the attitude in the workforce as both touch and support labor move from their comfort zone to try new approaches and job descriptions. The workforce must be properly motivated to make the change. The equipment must also be flexible in adapting to new line layouts, product mixes, and process change or large cost penalties will be incurred.