In the current business environment, it is not enough for a firm to merely cut costs. It calls for streamlining processes at the same time improving quality, becoming agile while being sharp to respond to customer demands and empowering employees in the quest for expanding profits. The aspect of streamlining operations has led companies such as Boeing in the concept of leaning processes. Lean is a concept of streamlining operations of a firm through designing, manufacturing, delivering and supporting products or services efficiently and less costly while eliminating wastes as much as possible throughout the life cycle (Krajewski et al., 24). Lean concept emerged mainly to help businesses to cope up with the competitive and rapidly changing marketplace; that is to allow them minimizes wastes while producing quality and affordable goods for the customers. Given the stiff competition that Boeing Company experiences in the industry, it has established a Boeing Production System for its commercial aircraft (Boeing 777 and 787) which has allowed it to maximize quality while minimizing costs.
Defining the Boeing Production System
The Boeing Production system (BPS) comprises several operational elements working in concert in concert with the ultimate aim being producing a highest quality and cost effective product in the least time possible. BPS is in line with the operations management that aims to systematically design, direct and control processes transforming inputs into outputs for customers (02-BUS340-OpsMgt.pptx). This is to say that BPS has been established based on the principles of operations management including cost reduction, quality maximization, and time reduction. Various costs may be involved in operations management including inventory holding costs, capital costs, storage and handling costs, taxes, and insurance and shrinkage costs among others (09-BUS340-OpsMgt.pptx). These costs can be influenced by leaning the processes. For example, holding or storage costs can be minimized if the entire operations are streamlined such that an aircraft is just ready as the customer is ready to pick it.
On the other hand, quality is seen as a central matter of consideration in the BPS. Quality is where Boeing derives its competitive edge. In lean processes, quality is a term derived from customers' perspective of general satisfaction with a service or product (07-BUS340-OpsMgt.pptx). Boeing believes that customer need high-quality products at lowest possible prices and they had to arrive at this equation through leaning processes to remove any possible defects and costs related to wastes. In consideration of time perspective, BPS aims to avail goods to the customer at the right time. Overall, BPS is fronted by the company as a means through which high quality and low-cost products are delivered to the customers as a competitive advantage strategy to win customers over the competitors.
Thus, BPS put together, is a value stream of building an airplane. It represents overall production flow from the initiation of raw materials to the finished aircraft. It comprises a path through which value is delivered to the customers. Breaking down the entire aircraft manufacturing process at Boeing into value chains within the BPS is a strategy aimed at cutting costs, increasing efficiencies and providing for product improvement to achieve the best quality for the customers.
Principles of BPS
BPS lays the framework that establishes guiding principles to lean manufacturing of the commercial airplanes, six sigma, value streams, managing supplier relationships and global manufacturing. All these elements are considered key to the competitiveness of the Boeing. One aspect of these principles that is worth reflecting is the Six Sigma. Six Sigma is a flexible and comprehensive system for attaining, sustaining and sustaining firm success through minimizing defects by reducing variations in the entire process (07-BUS340-OpsMgt.pptx). Six Sigma, thus, is the system used at Boeing to maintain quality products. Quality is seen as a responsibility of everyone in the company. Each employee is obligated never to accept, create or otherwise knowingly pass on a defect. Boeing considers quality as a system that involves everyone from suppliers, engineers, laborers to marketing and salespersons within the company. Verification methods have been designed into the manufacturing to reduce reliance on inspections. Six Sigma, as a quality management system, guides Boeing into transitioning quality from inspectors to a built-in process. This is the process of leaning operations to achieving better quality by having everyone within the value stream own quality and commit to producing a better product or at least contributing towards the betterment of the final output. Therefore, lean manufacturing, Six Sigma and the principle of working together enable Boeing commercial airplane team to focus on building better products faster and cheaper which ultimately aid cost reduction and strengthen the competitiveness of the company.
The BPS guides the lean production of high quality but lost cost aircraft that helps Boeing to survive the competitive global market space. BPS is designed to allow everyone including suppliers, engineers, laborers, sales and marketing teams to work together to minimize costs and enhance the quality of the product. It thus consolidates focus towards building the competitive advantage of the company depicted as a low-cost, high-quality airplane manufacturer.
02-BUS340-OpsMgt.pptx. "BBUS 340: Operations and Project Management." 21 June, 2018. Microsoft PowerPoint presentation.
07-BUS340-OpsMgt.pptx. "BBUS 340: Operations and Project Management." 10 July, 2018. Microsoft PowerPoint presentation.
09-BUS340-OpsMgt.pptx. "BBUS 340: Operations and Project Management." 19 July, 2018. Microsoft PowerPoint presentation.
Krajewski, Lee J., Larry P. Ritzman, and Manoj K. Malhotra. Operations management: processes and supply chains. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson, 2010.
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