Insiders note an uncanny calm at Boeing’s 737 MAX manufacturing unit, formerly a blazing center that has helped fuel the aviation industry’s record progress over the past 20 years.
Weeks after blocking the production of the 737 MAX, which has been downed for almost a year over deadly crashes, Boeing is seizing on the silence to carry out a shake-up at its Seattle-area manufacturing unit to curb inefficiency, improve quality and ease the aircraft’s re-entry to the market.
Supported by engineers from approximately a dozen suppliers such as fuselage manufacturer Spirit AeroSystems and robot manufacturer Electroimpact, Boeing is fixing stock administration, upgrading automated tooling, and addressing “high-defect” areas, three of them stated.
Boeing is also working on cutting back instances where workers leave instruments, rags, and other debris inside jetliners as they construct them, a problem at multiple Boeing factories.
A Boeing spokesperson said the corporate was using this time to work closely with suppliers on a dozen initiatives to improve the overall health of its production system.
While Boeing has long stated the Renton plant is already the most efficient in aviation, such longstanding issues had been considered as too risky to deal with during years of helter-skelter manufacturing to satisfy record jet demand.
Even before the 737 MAX grounding, the production of plane wings had been partially automated by robots. However, issues that missteps might harm deliveries, hurting revenue, prevented a complete forensic study of the decades-old factory.
Now, Boeing and other aerospace firms are giving more attention to enhancing output programs rather than adding to their already bulging order books. And for Boeing, the hushed MAX meeting traces have vaguely brought that effort into sharper focus.