Monday, September 8, 2014

The Boeing Philharmonic

The head conductor of the symphony usually stands in an orchestra pit and conducts the symphony producing excellent classical music. Where the audience may close its collective eyes and just listen to a hundred or more instruments, and virtuosos making music. Just one Tuba may make a wrong note at the wrong time every one notices and the symphony is spoiled That is the metaphor of Boeing's production symphony in Everett, Charleston and Renton. Thousands of partners join the symphony for every type of product Boeing builds. Boeing showed the conductors pit in Everett a few years back where a room full of people are in tune with every part in an aircraft build. They know where the parts are and when parts arrive for the production line. Any misstep in the supply chain is flagged.
 Below is the Boeing Conductors Symphony  Pit
Boeing's 787 Operations Control Center. Phil LeBeau | CNBC. Boeing's 787 Operations Control Center

This is where they track what seat goes onto what production position. Every piece is tracked, planned and implemented into the the production flow. Not just any seat goes into an aircraft. Full suites of specific business cubes are needed for fitting into the 787, per the customer requirement on the right aircraft with the right color. Even the engines are not a given. They must arrive during the production flow at the right time, within a several day window for the right airplane. The conductor of the operations control keeps every one  and every thing on the same page of music. Without this "conductor's pit", it would be kayos, not production music and a mess. Everything comes just-in-time to the production floor and in the right spot, every minute, of every hour, each day.

If something goes south on the floor, the music doesn't stop. However, they work through the log jam through the conductors assistance as found in the control room. "Hold the landing gear" and pass the "electrical panels". "Hey, where are the wheels and brakes? Oh, they are still in France, and are coming in 72 hours check!" The undercarriage work starts in four days and so forth. The conductors keep the floor in sync, and on pace. Even when the floor encounters a snag. The job reflects a mastery over the unexpected, not unlike what an air traffic controller experiences, but with far more parts specific to just one airline on the giant production floor. Not every airline in process has an traditionally assembly line format, as the next station in auto motive process just does cup holders and LED lighting. Its not as simple as found in the automotive industry. Each airplane is customer specific much like building a Rolls Royce Motor Car. Even though the structures are identical in assembly and the electrical or computer functions are the same it gets complicated quickly. Some have different entertainment systems with different added value Boeing systems or packages. Such as electronic flight bags or other options. Each variations from the order sequence is planned for and executed from the center from above, tracking the exact piece at the time and place on the floor.