Boeing Deploys Systems Analysis Approach to Optimize 787 Assembly

by: Prakash Sathe

Publication Date: November 2, 2022
Length: 30 pages
Product ID#: 6-546-347

Core Disciplines: Information - Technology & Management, Operations Management/Supply Chain

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Teaching Note

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This case describes The Boeing Company’s production process for assembling and supplying kit carts to 787 Dreamliner final assembly lines and explores appropriate strategies for solving challenging issues within the process. The case employs a systems analysis approach to break the process into sub-systems and analyze inputs and outputs at every level.

The 787 program pioneered numerous innovative manufacturing processes Boeing planned to implement on other commercial airliners. Chief among them was the use of kit carts to deliver parts and tools to mechanics. However, after kitting was implemented in 2016, the 787 program experienced challenges delivering kits to the right place, at the right time, and with the right parts. Kitting was a critical part of the streamlined 787 assembly process. Just one incorrect or incomplete kit on the production floor led to delays, and challenges with assembly schedules, on-time delivery, and financial consequences.

Students will use a holistic approach to analyze complex information systems, as well as identify internal process improvements to ensure on-time parts delivery.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Use a holistic approach to analyze complex information systems.
  • Identify issues upstream from manufacturing—such as system inconsistencies, non-robust information handoff, and poor data management—and how each can lead to production problems.
  • Identify internal process improvements to ensure delivery of correct information to the right person, on time, every time.
  • Analyze supply chain management policies on sourcing and part ordering decisions to develop action plans and ensure on-time parts delivery.