99 Percent Faster - Lockheed Martin Production Benefits From Lean Enterprise Techniques
ARLINGTON, VA, May 6th, 1998 -- Lean enterprise techniques are helping Lockheed Martin make parts and conduct production operations for the C-130J, F-22, F-16 and other aircraft up to 99 percent faster, James A. "Micky" Blackwell, president and chief operating officer of Lockheed Martin's Aeronautics Sector, said here today during remarks at the Global Air & Space Forum sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City hotel. Extrusions for the C-130J Hercules airlifter that took more than two months to make are now produced in minutes due to an inexpensive rearrangement of the tools and an overhaul of the manufacturing process. "What used to take us 65 days we now do in 158 seconds," Blackwell said.
A similar rearrangement of the routing process for F-22 assemblies has yielded more savings. The F-22 tail assembly once traveled approximately seven miles among dispersed sites inside the Lockheed Martin plant at Marietta, Georgia, as it went from one process to another in preparation for joining with the rest of the airframe. "Now that trip is down to 100 yards and will soon be less than that," Blackwell said. Elsewhere on the F-22 program, a robotic systems takes just 600 hours to paint and coat the F-22, compared to historically based estimates measured in tens of thousands of hours.
"That's the kind of cost-saving performance improvement you're going to see in production of the F-22," Blackwell said.
On the F-16 program, throughput time for the vertical tail has been reduced 50% and inventory has been reduced 60%.
Other lean enterprise initiatives include the development and implementation of advanced virtual product development techniques.
"We've gone far beyond using computers to check whether parts and components will fit together before we build them." Blackwell said. "For example, we can determine whether a given procedure puts too much strain on an assembler's elbow or shoulder. Then we can adjust the procedure so it's easier and less stressful. That makes for happier workers, better safety and improved productivity."
Blackwell said he has declared 1998 the "year of lean" in the Aeronautics Sector, referring to it as "a demarcation point that signals the beginning of a revolutionary transformation in how we do business." His remarks came during a panel discussion on peacekeeping and national security that covered the implications of the Quadrennial Defense Review, the National Defense Panel and Joint Vision 2010 for U.S. military forces and the defense industry. Joint Vision 2010, for example, states that "affordability of the technologies envisioned to achieve full spectrum dominance will be an important consideration."
The defense industry must pay as much attention to making its products affordable as it typically does to attaining new levels of system performance, Blackwell said.
"If our industry succeeds at implementing lean enterprise principles, the systems we'll be capable of providing to our 21st century military forces will be nothing short of amazing," Blackwell said. "They will be truly world class in capability. They will also be world class in terms of how they are made. That's a powerful combination that will ensure a new age of accomplishment by the aerospace and defense industry -- an age marked by innovation that is both brilliant and affordable."