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Abraham Lincoln once said that if he had six hours to cut down a tree, he would spend four hours sharpening his axe. This philosophy was the key focus for members of Bombardier’s CSeries commercial aircraft and Learjet 85 business jet Quality and Logistics Development teams during a course on advanced quality planning (AQP) and the deployment of the advanced logistics planning (ALP) strategy.
Bombardier currently uses Six Sigma and Kepner-Trego methodologies to achieve its quality objectives and has successfully delivered more than 500 aircraft during the past two years. However, proven preventive quality tools such as failure mode effects analysis (FMEAs), process control plans and mitigation approach plans, which have been used extensively in many industries-including automotive, pharmaceutical and medical-have yet to be embraced by the aerospace industry.
That, according to Sandra Perron, director, quality and logistics, CSeries, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, is about to change.
ChangesIn October 2010, several Bombardier facilitators, including members from Montréal, Belfast and Wichita, KS, graduated from an intensive 10-day AQP course provided by a specialized external consulting firm. They are now spearheading this quality initiative with a first wave of seven suppliers who also are embracing this methodology to identify potential areas of risk in their processes. On the logistics side, the team also is deploying FMEAs, as well as material and information flow analysis (MIFA) and capacity analysis training, to the same seven suppliers. Together, they will “plan for every part,” identify areas of potential risk and mitigate those risks with logistics process controls.
“We consistently talk about the need for flawless execution. The secret ingredient to the recipe for flawless execution is to mitigate risks before they impact production, and the best way to mitigate those risks is by identifying them first,” says Perron. “The ALP tools that Bombardier is deploying are tailored to do just that. FMEAs provide both Bombardier and its suppliers with the ability to target potential failure modes as far upstream as possible, and subsequently implement process controls, such as error-proofing and poke-yokes, that will prevent those failures from occurring rather than having to deal with them after they’ve happened.”
Bombardier also is utilizing the AQP toolset to adopt a proactive culture with regards to all internal manufacturing processes. Taking an extended value-stream approach ensures that the entire life cycle of the manufacturing process has been reviewed and that all risks have been identified and mitigated with robust improvement plans in place.
Brad Riffel, director of quality assurance at Bombardier Learjet, is a supporter of the AQP program and is excited to witness the shift in continuous improvement thinking within the aerospace industry.
Julie Bélanger, a mechanical engineer and quality manager who participated in the training, also agrees that this is the right way to go. “The time is right for implementing advanced quality planning principles and concepts,” she says. “This training enabled me to push beyond my paradigms and to explore the use of these proven tools, which focus on a more proactive approach. I strongly believe this training will have a positive impact on current and future development programs, and that it will be instrumental in pioneering a new quality benchmark throughout Bombardier.”
According to François Minville, vice president of manufacturing for the CSeries aircraft program, what is imperative to the deployment of this training is that it is not a flavor of the month. FMEAs will be deployed on a wider scale throughout all of Bombardier, and there are indications that the aerospace industry as a whole is adopting this strategy as well. Suppliers have been very receptive to the training thus far and are embracing this paradigm shift with understandable enthusiasm.
Once deployed, these tools will enable both Bombardier Aerospace and its suppliers to identify and eliminate potential quality issues far upstream in the process, prevent their impact earlier on and ultimately reap the rewards of a streamlined production system which can focus on “building in station,” a key factor in the automotive industry’s quantum leap in quality and logistics.
Both ALP and AQP participants recognized that once embraced on a larger scale, across the company’s supplier base as well as within its manufacturing plants, these advanced planning tools would help Bombardier reach its long-term quality and logistics goals. The vision is simple-perfect parts, on time, every time. Q