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Osprey Factory Putting Out

Osprey Factory Putting Out

What's that saying? "You've got to spend money to make money." If so, Boeing, Bell, and the Pentagon should become ungodly rich, soon. After investing $30 million to build a new fuselage assembly center in Philadelphia, the revolutionary aircraft now has a state-of-the art home that will help pay dividends in quality and cost for years to come.

Last week, more than 1,000 attendees, including customers, program personnel, local government officials and employees, gathered at the new facility for a dedication ceremony.

The event marked the end of more than a year's worth of work to renovate the new area and relocate the old line. The new "focused factory," designed using Lean Manufacturing principles, features a
paperless engineering system, straight-line flow, feeder lines and point-of-use for all parts and tools. It also is located closer to the site's Composites Center-the source of the aircraft's outer skin and more than 500 of its internal components.

Construction of the new 160,000 sq. ft. factory began in March 2002 after spending months designing its layout and developing a plan to make the move without interrupting production. Thanks to careful planning, Boeing delivered all nine fuselages in 2002 on schedule to industry partner Bell Helicopter, and is on track to deliver 11 this year. Designed with future growth in mind, Boeing's newest assembly line can support up to four aircraft per month.

One glance at the line's modern interior makes it clear that Boeing is serious about the V-22, the employees who build it and the warfighters who will use it. With co-located program personnel, greatly improved lighting and a climate-controlled environment, the new production area ushers in the future of rotorcraft production. "This new facility is critical to the future of the V-22 program," says Dan Korte, V-22 program manager. "It's our responsibility to do whatever it takes to deliver high quality aircraft to the customer. The new line, along with Bell Helicopter's final assembly center in Texas, will help us meet and exceed customer expectations."

Employees have been working in the new facility since February, when the first tooling made its way from the old area. And now that they have settled into their new digs, they already are seeing production improvements. Brett Mackrell, V-22 Assembly and Integration supervisor, explained that his team could finish an aft section in the old facility in 18 days and 1,800 man-hours. In comparison, the new facility has trimmed eight days and more than 800 hours per section from the
cycle time. Jim Cucchi, V-22 Aft Section EI Team leader, added, "It's encouraging to see the company invest in the site's future. Everyone had an opportunity to participate in the design
of the new line, and the improvements we've seen so far are just the beginning."

FMI: Bell's Osprey Site; Boeing's Osprey Site

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