Boeing is a celebrated brand because its products serve the needs of many clients across the globe. Most of the company’s customers are governments and military organizations. The company’s “products and tailored services include commercial and military aircraft, satellites, weapons, electronic and defense systems, advanced information and communication systems, launch systems, training, and performance-based logistics” (“Boeing in Brief” par. 1). In order to become one of the leading players in the global aviation industry, Boeing has been focusing on the power of innovation and leadership. Innovative technologies and ideas are embraced in order to address the ever-changing needs of many global customers (Watson 12).
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The firm uses its resources to advance its services and products. The use of advanced systems supports the company’s business strategy. Boeing has two critical divisions that ensure it is on the right path towards realizing its business goals. These include the engineering and operations and technology (O&T) departments (“Boeing in Brief” par. 4). The firm also uses quality management tools in order to produce superior products that add value to its customers. This essay describes how lean is used by Boeing as a quality improvement (QI) tool to deliver positive results.
Boeing’s Quality Technique: Lean
Borrowed from the famous Toyota Production System (TPS), lean (also known as lean production) indicates that no plan can succeed without a clearly-defined roadmap (“Lean” par. 2). The action plan should outline the key principles, paths, and guidelines that must be considered in order to produce desirable results. The lean concept has five key principles or concepts. These concepts include “understanding value from the customer’s perspective, understanding the value stream, making the value stream flow, creating pull, and continuous improvement” (“Lean” par. 2).
According to the lean model, businesses should be aware of the diverse needs and expectations of the targeted customers. Once this knowledge is gained, the company should focus on the best approaches towards creating a competitive edge (“Lean” par. 3). The lean production tool encourages firms to produce superior products that can attract more customers. Such customers should be able to use the products in the future. This process is “known as repeat business” (Watson 11). Companies that use the lean approach are always aware of the unique needs of the targeted customers. This knowledge makes it easier for them to provide value to them.
The second step is “for the firm to understand the value stream” (Garretson and Harmon 3). This is achieved by examining the path taken from production to delivery of the product or service to the end-user. This step is used to examine certain issues such as the number of individuals completing a specific task, lost time, wastes associated with the production, and cycle time (Tang and Zimmerman 75). Evidence-based data should be collected during this stage in order to quantify the number of wastes incurred during production. The gained information is then used to make the most desirable improvements.
The next critical step of the lean is to remove every waste identified in phase two. The removal of wastes and delays in the value stream is critical towards improving the level of performance (Tomic, Brkic, and Klarin 138). During this stage, the most appropriate opportunities for improvement are identified. The fourth stage is creating the required pull. The role of pull is to ensure that the company produces superior products that can satisfy the needs of the customers without wastes or overproduction (Watson 65). This stage can be used to ensure the targeted services or products are produced in a timely manner. This phase play makes it possible for a company to focus on the most desirable products. The step presents an aspect of flexibility in an attempt to remove wastes while at the same time adding value to the customers.
The fifth step reveals an important aspect of this quality improvement tool. According to the approach, companies should repeat the above 1-4 stages in order to produce positive results. This process should be executed over and over again in an attempt to improve every production process. Improvements should be appreciated to ensure the final products satisfy the ever-changing needs of the targeted customers (Garretson and Harmon 4). When applied in a professional manner, lean has the potential to transform the performance of an organization and eventually drive results.
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Why Boeing Uses Lean
Boeing is a large company with an outstanding tradition of innovation and leadership. Within the past two decades, the number of customers in demand for superior products has continued to shrink (“Boeing in Brief” par. 3). The company has been focusing on the best approaches in order to address these emerging needs. The firm always develops or acquires new processes that have the potential to improve the level of business performance. These processes are changed frequently in order to produce modern products that address the diverse needs of different customers.
Unless adequate measures are put in place, Boeing can record increased levels of wastes and find it hard to achieve its business goals. The complexity of different processes and systems used by the company can result in numerous challenges. That being the case, the company has made lean a friendly phrase that defines each and every process (Malhotra and Majchrzak 4). The company embraces the use of lean because to identify and eliminate wastes. Through the use of lean, Boeing finds it easier to streamline each and every production process (“Lean” par. 5). This approach has proved to be cost-effective, efficient, and sustainable for the company. The use of lean helps “spark new ideas to improve quality and reduce costs and cycle times with an eye on how to drive innovation and change forward” (“Lean” par. 2).
Boeing has made lean a critical philosophy that guides the performance of its employees. The employee-driven concept encourages workers to remain competitive. The firm considers and analyzes every new change experienced in the industry. By so doing, Boeing has managed to remain competitive in the industry thus attracting the greatest number of potential customers. One of the outstanding aspects of Boeing is that it treats lean as a core competence that supports its business performance (“Lean” par. 5). The people at the company are equipped with the most desirable skills and resources in order to support the QI tool. Consequently, the firm has managed to produce superior products that support the diverse needs of more clients.
Boeing’s Use of Lean
Boeing has been implementing the major principles of lean for over ten years. Within this decade, Boeing has maximized its efficiency, improved safety, and eliminated the major wastes associated with various production processes. It should be observed that lean is perceived by the leaders at Boeing as a critical manufacturing attribute. This is the case because lean is applied in each and every aspect of the organization (“Lean” par. 2). The company identifies the major issues that might affect performance and outline the most desirable attributes in order to record positive results.
In order to ensure the company uses lean adequately, the managers of different business units liaise with the Boeing Capital Corporation (BCC). The strategy makes it possible for the managers to realize the most desirable results. The role of the BCC is to provide the most appropriate financial information and solution. These strategies are embraced in order to develop and acquire modern technologies that can improve the level of performance (“Lean” par. 4).
The first initiative undertaken by the firm in an attempt to improve service delivery to the targeted customers is to analyze value as perceived by the major customers. Many governments and military agencies across the globe are in need of superior aircraft that can deliver the targeted goals. Some of the business partners require advanced aircraft characterized by comfort and security. Airline companies have continued to trust Boeing’s initiatives as a leader in the aircraft manufacturing industry. At Boeing, the needs of these customers are analyzed and monitored frequently (Garretson and Harmon 7). Constant collaboration with targeted customers is promoted in order to identify new initiatives that can deliver value. When the leaders and employees at Boeing understand the unique needs of these customers, it becomes easier to promote new processes that will produce superior products capable of adding value to them. This knowledge is used to implement new production processes that can provide value to the targeted clients (“Boeing in Brief” par. 5).
After outlining the unique needs and expectations of the customers, Boeing focuses on the value stream. This process is achieved by collecting timely data from various plants and departments. The gathered data is used to identify new clues about the anomalies affecting various production processes (“Lean” par. 7). Sources of waste and ineffectiveness are identified during this process. The gathered information makes it possible for the managers at Boeing to identify the most appropriate improvements. Issues such as machine breakdowns and wastes are outlined in order to implement better processes.
The next critical step at Boeing is “shortening the lead time” (“Boeing in Brief” par. 9). This is achieved once the major wastes identified in phase 2 are removed. The newly-created value stream is usually characterized by shorter lead-times. Consequently, the processes make the flow of information effective and smooth. Different actors find it easier to use the information and promote the most desirable processes. At Boeing, lean is always treated as a powerful strategy through which unnecessary wastes are eliminated. After collecting evidence-based data, processes are streamlined and coordinated in order to make them cost-effective.
The company has always been associated with huge financial inputs. It acquires raw materials and resources from different suppliers. Coordination and planning should be done accurately in order to ensure the final products are delivered to the targeted customers in a timely manner (“Lean” par. 9). The third stage of the lean process is used to minimize most of the unnecessary costs. When such costs are minimized, it becomes easier for Boeing to focus on the most desirable practices and eventually produce superior crafts. Each unit in the production cycle embraces the lean concept in order to reduce delivery time. Analysts have indicated that “time-wasting redundancies might affect the effectiveness of an organization and result in massive losses” (Malhotra and Majchrzak 16). This fact explains why Boeing uses the most desirable practices to reduce production costs and time.
The fourth stage of the lean process focuses on the best approaches and strategies to create pull. Every production activity at Boeing seeks to fulfill the goals of this phase. The creation of pull is a powerful strategy whereby an organization utilizes its resources in an efficient manner in an attempt to produce acceptable products. At the same time, the production operations should be flexible, guided by evidence-based data, and capable of minimizing wastes (“Lean” par. 9). The other critical issue associated with lean is the ability to deliver the final products in a timely manner. This knowledge makes it easier for the company to minimize operational costs and unnecessary expenses.
Boeing has adopted various strategies in order to ensure its departments focus on the needs of the customers while at the same time minimizing delays and wastes. The successful implementation of lean at Boeing is supported by the engagement of every employee. The products ordered by different customers should be characterized by new innovations, processes, and systems. Boeing engages its employees in each and every stage of the production process. The workers are always advised to challenge the existing processes and identify new paths that have the potential to deliver positive results (“Lean” par. 11). The other issue taken seriously by the company’s management is the recruitment of skilled workers. The firm hires new workers who have the potential to transform Boeing’s production processes. The skills of the workers present new lessons that can increase the effectiveness of the company.
Workers are encouraged to examine various processes and propose new improvements that can eliminate wastes. The company’s employees present powerful ideas thus resulting in operational efficiency (“Boeing in Brief” par. 4). Quality and safety are considered in order to improve the superiority of the final products. In order to achieve this goal, new improvements are considered in each and every stage of the manufacturing cycle. This strategy explains why Boeing’s approach to lean has continued to deliver positive results.
The final phase of lean is treated as one of Boeing’s core strategies. Nolan argues that “lean manufacturing is something that should not be done just once” (98). This notion is embraced by Boeing in order to ensure different areas are improved every day. Since production is an ongoing process, Boeing creates and supports the best environment in order to produce desirable products. After creating new improvements, the company “encourages its workers to start again in order to remain a leader in the market” (“Lean” par. 7). At Boeing, the improvement of different production processes is something that is embraced daily.
A number of initiatives are embraced by Boeing in order to achieve the targeted goals. The employees are always encouraged to support the company’s approach to lean. Improvement activities at Boeing include continued analysis and reexamination of various work methods (“Boeing in Brief” par. 8). Work is redistributed to different workers and engineers whenever specific improvements are needed. Layouts in different departments are redesigned depending on the targeted goals. The concept of teamwork has become a critical attribute of this company. The workers at Boeing work hand in hand to outline new processes that have the potential to deliver positive results.
Some of the issues analyzed frequently include costs, cycle time, and quality (“Lean” par. 11). Departmental heads and supervisors act as role models in the company. These leaders encourage their followers to focus on advanced processes that have the potential to improve quality. Unnecessary inventory is monitored in an attempt to improve the company’s production processes. The firm’s effectiveness towards attacking different sources of waste and improvement of production processes has led to competitiveness (Tang and Zimmerman 79). This is the case because most of the products associated with Boeing support the needs of the targeted customers.
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The leaders of different business units at Boeing coordinate with various stakeholders and suppliers in order to ensure various products are delivered in a timely manner. Lean practices have continued to add value to the company’s products and services (“Lean” par. 10). Consequently, the use of lean has led to increased competitiveness and profitability. The lean concept has been observed to apply across all aspects and departments in the company. The use of lean has therefore played a significant role in making Boeing one of the most successful companies in the aircraft manufacturing industry.
Lessons Gained From the Analysis
The case of Boeing shows conclusively that lean is a powerful tool that can make it easier for many companies to realize their potentials. In order to achieve the best results, companies can make lean a critical aspect of their business model. This lesson is relevant because it can improve the performance of many companies. The above discussion indicates that firms can make lean a meaningful tool for improving quality. Business leaders should follow the five phases of lean in order to achieve the best results (Tomic et al. 139). This approach can make it possible for companies to improve quality, increase the level of efficiency, and eliminate wastes. When such wastes are reduced, the targeted company will deliver quality products to its customers and eventually record positive profits.
The discussion has also indicated that lean is a model that is applicable in each and every aspect of an organization. Each department and process can benefit significantly from the concept of continuous improvement (Watson 49). Different groups in an organization can collaborate in order to identify new processes that can improve the level of performance. Team leaders should guide their followers to innovate and come up with new ideas that can result in production management. Unnecessary processes will be omitted thus improving the process of production.
The other important lesson obtained from the case of Boeing is that business organizations should engage their employees throughout the phases of lean (Tomic et al. 140). Since the change in not something easy, the collaboration with different employees will result in increased levels of morale. The workers will present the best ideas and promote a wide range of innovative processes. Newly-created ideas will play a positive role towards reducing wastes. Studies have also indicated conclusively that employees who are engaged throughout the lean process will be satisfied with their jobs. They will put extra efforts and eventually make their respective companies successful.
Boeing is one of the best firms providing the best working environment for its workers. That being the case, the use of lean creates new challenges for the workers. The targeted workers put extra efforts, collaborate with one another, and identify new strategies that will deliver positive results. Companies that want to record positive results should combine the concept of lean with management (Watson 89). The case study also explains why companies should ensure their business partners are included in the lean program. This strategy will create a positive environment that makes it possible for the workers to identify wastes and identify new improvements. The ultimate goal should be to deliver quality services or products to the targeted customers. Firms that embrace these strategies will eventually realize their objectives and become leaders in their respective industries.
Recommendations for Boeing
Boeing has successfully applied the principles of lean to produce powerful products that are affordable, superior, and capable of supporting the needs of more customers. The positive gains recorded by Boeing include “business growth, increased customer satisfaction, and increased shareholder value” (“Lean” par. 13). This success goes further to support the effectiveness of lean as a powerful quality improvement tool. However, some improvements and strategies can play a positive role towards making Boeing more profitable, sustainable, and successful.
Toyota has remained a leader in the automobile industry because of its ability to use modern technologies. The company is associated with various practices that give it a competitive edge in the global automobile industry. The famous Toyota Production System (TPS) has been embraced by many firms because it has the potential to deliver positive results. The TPS model outlines the best practices that can be applied by firms to reduce wastes and eventually engage in continuous improvement. This framework is known to have reshaped the effectiveness of the lean model. Boeing can go further to embrace the use of “just-in-time” as implemented by Toyota. This approach makes it easier for many companies to acquire the required raw materials in the right quantities (Nolan 96). By so doing, Boeing will be able to produce the targeted products in a timely manner and eventually satisfy the needs of the customers.
The other recommendation for Boeing is to embrace the power of manufacturing assessment. Borrowing from Toyota, Boeing can use a powerful assessment model to analyze the major weaknesses affecting the production process. This assessment strategy will make it easier for Boeing to acquire the most desirable technologies and resources to improve performance (Nolan 97). Although the strategy is in place at the company, new improvements will be necessary in order to ensure the company is on the frontline towards realizing its business potentials.
Finally, the company can motivate its workers using a number of initiatives such as insurances and work-life balances (Nolan 99). Boeing can ensure every working environment supports high-performance. This approach will make it easier for the workers to engage in innovative practices. Modern technologies and use of evidence-based data will make it easier for the company to improve its production processes. The concept of sustainability should be included in the five phases of lean. The strategy will play a significant role towards making Boeing one of the most sustainable firms in the industry. These recommendations will support the effectiveness of the lean approach and eventually make Boeing profitable.
Garretson, Pamela and Paul Harmon. “How Boeing A&T Manages Business Processes.” BPTrends 1.1 (2005): 1-13. Print.
Watson, Gregory. Strategic Benchmarking Reloaded with Six Sigma. New York, NY: Wiley, 2012. Print.
Tomic, Branislav, Vesna Brkic and Milivoj Klarin. “Quality Management System for the Aerospace Industry.” International Symposium Engineering Management and Competitiveness 1.1 (2011): 137-142. Print.
Nolan, Richard. “Ubiquitous IT: The case of the Boeing 787 and implications for strategic IT research.” Journal of Strategic Information Systems 21.1 (2012): 91-102. Print.
Malhotra, Arvind and Ann Majchrzak. “Radical Innovation without Collocation: A Case Study at Boeing-Rocketdyne.” MIS Quarterly 25.2 (2001): 1-21. Print.
Tang, Christopher and Joshua Zimmerman. “Managing New Product Development and Supply Chain Risks: The Boeing 787 Case.” Supply Chain Forum 10.2 (2009): 74-86. Print.
Boeing in Brief 2016. Web.
Lean 2016. Web.