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The Benefits of Lean Principles in Aerospace Manufacturing

aerospace manufacturingThough lean manufacturing was originally developed for the automotive industry, aerospace manufacturing companies have found that these principles can also be applied in this high-precision industry to create dramatic improvements in the efficiency of production. Lean is derived from the Toyota Production System which was implemented after World War II as part of Toyota’s goal to deliver a wider variety of products more efficiently than the traditional mass production techniques of the era. The company identified seven wastes, specifically Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over-processing, Over-production and Defects, which could be eliminated from the production process, with the eventual goal of having all of production time spent adding value to a part.

The lean process was originally designed for automotive production, which is high-volume/low-mix with relatively loose tolerances and short production times, while aerospace manufacturing tends to be more high-mix/low-volume with longer production times and tighter tolerances. This means that there is less room for improvement in particular wastes, like Inventory, while others, such as Transportation and Motion, can make excellent targets for aerospace lean initiatives. However, the resulting benefits of shorter lead times, faster production runs and lower manufacturing costs are the same for aerospace manufacturers.

For example, in one documented case an aerospace manufacturing company implemented targeted lean programs which increased production capacity, and reduced scrap and reworking costs at one of its plants by more than 75% in just six months. This plant also achieved a reduction in lead time of more than 35% over the same period. This same company was found to have increased production capacity and labor efficiency by 20% at another one of its plants over 18 months with just informal lean training and generic goals.

It’s clear to see that having lean training is an important part of staying competitive in the aerospace manufacturing business, which is why all of Intrex Aerospace’s staff has received training from the Colorado Association for Manufacturing and Technology on lean manufacturing and the incumbent cost reduction benefits for aerospace manufacturers. We’re also ISO 9001:2000 and AS9100 certified, as well as familiar with JIT and Kanban, all of which help us eliminate waste throughout our production process.

To find out more about our company, the many ways we implement principles or to request a quote for your manufacturing project, contact Intrex Aerospace today.

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