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
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
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