Figure I

U.S. aircraft industry sales, 1986-1996. Source: AIA (1994 and 1995).

agement techniques and the entire lean-agile manufacturing paradigm, as it understands these concepts and practices. For example, to name a few techniques GAMC has adopted, they have implemented an intensive statistical process control program throughout the firm; developed and begun using a supplier rating and certification system; restructured the entire company into integrated, multifunctional product-process development teams; participated in early supplier involvement programs of their primary customers; involved their suppliers in similar efforts; entered into teaming and long-term risk-revenue sharing partnerships with customers and suppliers.

The aircraft industry differs substantially from the automobile industry. Thus, a major research goal is to understand the implications of those differences. The choice of GAMC as a target for a first exploratory case analysis is not intended to identify or suggest "best practice" or "poor practice" in the aircraft industry. No stand-alone case can claim such insight. Rather, the case investigates the implications of three major differences between the auto and aircraft industries.

First, in automobiles the lean manufacturing system was pioneered by Toyota, and emulated by other Japanese manufacturers, during a postwar period of remarkable economic expansion. By comparison, as Figure I shows, the U.S. aircraft industry in the 1990s saw a large-scale downturn. The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) estimates that 1995 U.S. aircraft sales were $54 billion, down 34 percent in real terms from their 1991 peak (AIA, 1995). U.S. aircraft manufacturers have, for the most part, only within the last few years begun implementing techniques drawn from research and writing on lean manufacturing. Clearly techniques for dealing with suppliers could be very different between rapidly expanding and rapidly shrinking industries.

A second major difference is the commercial-military split in the U.S. air-

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