Boeing Assembly Line

Boeing prepares to create moving assembly line for 787 Dreamliner

Boeing Assembly Line

Boeing Assembly Line

Boeing wants to change 787 Dreamliner assembly in Everett to a continuously moving production line, despite many challenges.

The shift would bring more efficiency and lower cost to Dreamliner assembly. But a mistake could create the kind of 787 production stumble that Boeing executives want left far behind them.

Right now the carbon composite aircraft is produced on two Everett assembly lines, both of which are running on a “pulsed” approach. This means the aircraft moves to a station on the line for several days, and remains stationary while work is done, before moving to the next stage.

By contrast, Boeing assembles the 777 and 737 on moving lines.

One of the challenges facing Brett Vandeputte, who directs 787 production, is that by the end of 2015 Boeing will close down the second 787 “surge line,” which means that all Everett 787 production, now seven planes a month, will have to be accomplished on the single remaining primary line.

While Vandeputte concedes that the goal of a moving 787 line is “a few years” off, he’s doing everything he can now to make it possible.

Two innovations he’s taken from Boeing’s fast-moving 737 line are key.

Five rapid-response stations, each manned by workers who can immediately respond to a problem on the line, allow mechanics to stay with the priority of building aircraft. The stations feature large digital screens displaying problems that arise, and color-coded lights that reflect the operational status of production.

The second innovation is expanding the packages workers are given for each job, called kits, to include all of the tools and materials. This means that workers don’t have to spend time looking for the right equipment.

Also, Vandeputte is working to move more work more toward the beginning of the production line, so that the last position can focus on testing the aircraft before it’s rolled out.

Source… Boeing prepares to create moving assembly line for 787 Dreamliner

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