Supply Chain Matters has featured a number of blog commentaries highlighting the various supply chain management accomplishments and challenges related to the commercial aircraft industry. Current unprecedented, multi-year customer order backlogs for new aircraft are having an effect on the entire aerospace industry supply chain ecosystem. Click on the search term Aerospace Supply Chain on our right-hand Categories panel and you will get quite a sampling of current and future challenges.

Wired Magazine had the opportunity to visit Boeing’s Renton Washington Production Facility, where workers build a new 737 aircraft in just nine days. The factory, currently produces new aircraft at the current rate of 42 aircraft per month, with plans to plans to expand this build rate to 47 per month next year, and up to 57 in 2019.

Boeing claims the 1.1-million-square-foot facility is most efficient airplane factory in the world. Arch rival Airbus, has its own multi-year backlog for new single-aisle commercial aircraft and this manufacturer is also investing in manufacturing automation, technology and broader supply chain wide visibility to meet its more aggressive production and supply chain ramp-up challenges.

Video often provides us powerful images of how the supply chain comes together and makes the difference for meeting customer fulfillment needs. Therefore, we invite our readers to view Wired’s recent feature: How Boeing Builds a 737 Aircraft in Just Nine Days.

A couple of caveats related to the video.

You will notice some video clips are of Boeing’s brand new 737 Max being assembled. That aircraft model is still in early production ramp-up and has not met the current cadence rate of 42 aircraft per month.  The Wired editor declares that the Renton facility is the most automated aircraft production facility in the world.  We believe that rival Airbus would take exception to that statement.

Overall, the most important takeaway is that when you consider Boeing, Airbus and other commercial aircraft manufacturers combined, the overall industry supply chain has its own unique challenges and opportunities. Respective Sales and  Operations Planning s well as supply chain leadership teams a all tiers of the industry supply chain are constantly balancing and responding to demand and supply changes or challenges.

And, after all of these new aircraft enter operational service with respective airlines, the service lifecycle management and service parts supply chain kicks into support mode to insure that service parts and components are also available when and where needed.

The supply chain is indeed the lifeblood of an industry.

Bob Ferrari