Essay, Research Paper: Boeing


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Boeing has been building commercial airliners since 1927 with the first Boeing
commercial jet airliner, the 7O7, introduced in l955. As discussed in the
article on page 172 of the text. This success is even more remarkable when one
realizes that the Boeing "Design/ Build" process had not changed very
much during the past three decades. The system was antiquated, cumbersome, and
inefficient creating production delays, increased costs, and spawning a huge
bureaucracy simply to handle the paperwork. Boeing must clearly be motivated to
bring this World War II era process into the 21st Century. Airbus Industries'
increasingly larger share of the commercial airliner market was a major force
instigating these changes. Airbus had the advantages of government subsidies to
help defray the costs of implementing best design practices, as well as
latecomer advantages. It learned from Boeing's, as well as Lockheed's and
McDonnell Douglas', mistakes and it did not have 40 years of bureaucratic
momentum to overcome. Other motivating factors include the need for Boeing to
increase the income from the commercial aircraft division to offset the loss of
revenue due to cutbacks in government defense and aerospace contracts. In this
paper I will attempt to highlight those topics I think should be covered,
suggestions, and background for those reasons. In this I will hope to show why
the Boeing Company was in need of the much-needed overhaul of the design/build
process at Boeing, the changes themselves as well as the methodology used in
accomplishing those changes. The Commercial Aircraft Industry The last decade
has seen the commercial aircraft industry dominated by two manufacturers: the
Boeing Commercial Aircraft Company and Airbus Industries, with McDonnell
Douglas, a distant third. Airbus Industries is a relative newcomer, but it has
very quickly provided much competition to Boeing, surpassing McDonnell Douglas
and Lockheed. Airbus Industries is a consortium backed by the British, French,
German and Spanish governments. The great, and many say unfair, advantage that
Airbus has over the competition is government subsidies allowing Airbus to
operate in the red. Thus, Airbus can afford to develop new technologies without
having to worry about passing on the costs to the customers and can price their
aircraft very competitively to lure away airlines from Boeing. Cost cutting The
effects of the changing airline industry resulting from deregulation in 1978 are
still being felt in the commercial aircraft industry. The competition among
airlines for passengers has resulted in a greater emphasis on cost cutting
leading to mergers and bankruptcies. In addition, airlines modified their
routing systems since they were not limited to certain routes, as was the case
before deregulation, changing their buying patterns for aircraft accordingly.
Airlines were now less concerned with having a technologically superior airplane
and more concerned about the cost and efficiency of that airplane. Why Change.?
The first question that comes to mind is "why would the undisputed leader
in the commercial airliner industry make such a risky, change?". In other
words, doesn't the old motto "If it ain't broke, Don't fix it" apply
in this case? Well according to many observers both inside and outside of
Boeing, the system was 'broke'. To give an example of the inefficiency of the
process that coordinates engineering and manufacturing, it used to take 800
different computer systems to manage it. This process has been around since
Boeing was building the B-17 Bomber in World War II. The process of tracking
parts in an airplane was called "effectinitly" and was done manually!
A drafter required two years of training to fully understand the system, and
still one-third of the paper work contained errors. This "effectivity"
just doesn't make sense, and this process adds absolutely no value to their
product and results in tremendous costs. Regardless of all the evidence pointing
to flaws in the system, changing a successful company is not easy, especially if
we consider the cost and the additional time involved. For the 777, the
additional time is estimated to be six months over the normal 48 months to
develop a new airplane. Getting a tremendously large bureaucratic system to move
forward is a daunting task, especially while continuing to produce airplanes.
The Changes; The changes to the Boeing Commercial Aircraft Company must
encompass all fields. From the philosophy of the company to the technical
details, every aspect of the design/build process will need to be modified.
Measurement Tools and Practices Need: All content is integrated and organized to
fit each user's needs and delivery preferences. Barriers:  Lack of
collection point for distributed server statistics  Split between
internal metrics and vendor hosted metrics  Lack of direct user
identification  Difficulty of collecting true costs and true benefits
 Lack of accounting tools to measure intangibles What Boeing is doing:
 Collecting metrics from high volume servers as indicators of growth
 Using local server statistics to monitor content usage  Using
traditional survey methods to answer questions about usefulness, abuse, and
value  Collecting data on increased revenue, decreased costs, and better
use of information for specific sites  Participating in bench marking
surveys with peer institutions Delivery Tools and Practices Need: All content
being able to be integrated and organized to fit each user's needs and delivery
preferences. Barriers:  Rapid proliferation of tools for content
delivery  Media hype based on marketing claims  Lack of software
compatibility  Instability of tools developed on fast schedules 
Lack of common standards for content description  Poor content
maintenance  Poor integration of delivery tools and content What Boeing
is doing:  Providing enterprise-wide delivery systems for search and
filtering  Site licensing search products for local server use 
Providing product support for licensed products  Encouraging internal
information owners to develop processes to manage their information, and making
visible those sites that succeed  Encouraging vendors to separate
content from delivery tools, and to work towards common content formats
Platforms Need: Ensure all content is integrated and organized to fit each
user's needs and delivery preferences. Barriers:  Wide accessibility
brings enterprise-wide deficiencies into visibility  Platform
incompatibilities are escalating, driving importance of common standards
 Those standards are still in evolution, and often pushed for
competitive advantage  Problems of scale become major roadblocks for
needed infrastructure services (directory, authentication)  Pull between
distributed and centralized services is a constant struggle Publishing
Tools/Content Management Need: All content is integrated and organized to
accommodate each user's needs and delivery preferences. Barriers:  Most
difficult piece of the puzzle to solve, and least interesting to technologists
 Rich content is essential for better management  Agreement on
how to enrich that content is not easy  Very few standards for content
description are available or stable  Commercial tools do not lend
themselves to software- independent content description  90% of the
battle is education What Boeing is doing:  Starting small 
Adopting a subset of Dublin Core meta-data as the company-wide tagging standard
 Initiating groups to examine impact of XML and RDF on Boeing's existing
and planned content sets  Promoting and presenting pilot projects using
rich content through cross-company forums  Influencing internal
standards boards to address issues of content management vs. infrastructure
management  Participating in research studies and other activities
related to knowledge management Understanding User's Needs Vision: All content
is integrated and organized to fit each user's needs and delivery preferences.
Barriers:  Users all have different needs  Identifying those
needs is difficult  Meeting those needs is harder still  User
expectations are often unrealistic  Content is often tied to delivery
systems  Content is protected by passwords  Content sets often
overlap What Boeing is doing:  Tracking usage statistics to find high
impact pages  Using surveys to collect feedback  Performing
usability studies on high profile web sites  Studying specific user
groups' information seeking behavior  Looking at cultural barriers to
effective use of information  Lobbying vendors to adopt common content
and retrieval standards  Purchasing content separately from delivery
systems wherever possible New Philosophy Needed Vision: All employees must be
part of a team and have the pride that accompanies it. Barriers: 
Working as teams can at times be extremely difficult  Knowing your
employees and your supervisors can cause animosity among sections  Trust
with in the company must be earned What Boeing is doing:  Boeing is
touting the 777 as a new processes not just a new product, a philosophy that is
espoused by everyone from the top down.  Cards worn on name tags were
printed listing the mission, goals, objectives  The Boeing company
mission statement is: "To be the number one aerospace company in the world
and among the premier industrial concerns in terms of quality, profitability and
growth." On the backside of the 777 division cards was this mission
statement: "Working together to produce the preferred new airplane
family." Mind Change: Vision: Change need to not only tangible but in the
mind of every worker. Barriers:  Working together solving problems
 Realizing the benefits of having every one involved What Boeing is
doing:  The "I can do it alone " was changed to "We can
do it together " Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) Simulation and Integration:
Vision: Computer Aided Drafting should be used and linked to every Engineer so
as to promote ideas and decrease production time. Barriers:  Linking
this type and style of software can be expensive What Boeing is doing: 
The development of the 777 was the single largest trial of CAD and the initial
production time results were impressive. The port wing tip of the first 777 was
out of position by 1/1,000 of an inch when attached to the fuselage and the
starboard wing was exactly located to within the accuracy of the measuring
gauges where by saving countless man-hours and money. Design/Build Teams Goals:
Vision: Institute teams and publish goals that are obtainable and common sense.
Barriers:  Established Companies are reluctant to change their ways What
Boeing is doing:  Boeing management was a hand written list of goals
including statements such as: a) Everything works, b) No surprises, and c)
Working together.  This led directly to the concept of design/build
teams, which were involved, on every aspect of the design effort. At one point
there were 238 such teams. Business/Marketing: Vision: Changes in business and
marketing practices are necessary Boeing will need to be more responsive to the
customer. Barriers:  This can be a large hurdle to cross, as the Leader
in the aircraft industry is some times difficult to change when you are the
leader of the pack. What Boeing is doing:  One of Boeing's stated goals
and marketing strategy cornerstones is the idea of service readiness from day
one.  Perhaps the strongest selling point of Boeing's marketing strategy
is the idea of customer involvement and giving the customer configuration
flexibility. Teams from four customers, United Airlines, British Airways, All
Nippon and Japan Airlines, were heavily involved from the beginning of the 777
program. Boeing gives airlines great flexibility in configuring the cabin by
making the galleys and lavatories completely modular. Cost Cutting: Vision: In
today's economy they must be and remain competitive they must reduce costs.
Barriers:  This may and some times causes layoffs for several employees
 It is unpopular to take the needed steps to remain competitive in a
world economy What Boeing is doing:  Boeing has set targets for reducing
costs by 25%, defects by 50%  Cut order-to-delivery time by half to six
months.  A large step toward achieving the cost reduction goal is going
to just-in-time management of the nearly $8 billion inventory Boeing keeps on
hand just in-case. Will it Work? Did all these changes substantially change the
design/build process for commercial jet aircraft at Boeing? Yes! Was it a change
for the better? Yes! Were the changes enough to maintain the market share that
Boeing currently enjoys? The answer to the last question is difficult to answer
now since the changes are not complete and their effects will not be known until
well into the 21-st century.

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