Supply Chain Matters calls special attention to readers who are involved in either commercial aerospace or engineer-to-order focused internal and supply chain environments. Today’s printed edition of The Wall Street Journal features a front-page article, Airbus-Boeing Speed Race Increasingly Takes Place on the Ground. (Paid subscription or metered view) By our lens, this article should be mandatory reading.

The article itself is well written and very insightful in pointing out how two rival commercial aerospace OEM’s are learning important lessons in consistent manufacturing and supply chain execution.

We cite two opening excerpts:

After years of racing to develop and market new models, both have clear product lines for the next decade. Their order backlogs stretch as long.

Now, the world’s two biggest jet makers are squaring off on execution. Each aims to grab market share by building its planes faster and more efficiently than the other—a gambit both have struggled with in the past.”

Specific examples are provided on how Airbus and Boeing have addressed inter-organizational and supplier cooperation, more streamlined and focused processes, and a reoriented focus towards how aircraft will be built vs. what they would look like.  It is a focus toward design for manufacturability as well as supply chain. In the specific example of the new Airbus A350 program, insights are brought forward in organizational design, workforce selection and manufacturing process design.

Included is a powerful quote from Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney:

It is not just about building more airplanes but also building them more efficiently, with higher first-time quality, greater component reliability and improved employee safety.”

Well stated and an important reference for both internal and supplier based teams.

Bob Ferrari