lenged, but not overturned. International collaboration and subcontracting has increased the globalization of the industry.

On the defense side, concerns over affordability have dominated. The industry has focused on the reduction of cycle times and costs. In fact, these were the reasons for establishing the Lean Aerospace Initiative at MIT. The Initiative is a consortium bringing together industry, government, and unions to achieve significant fundamental improvements in the way in which weapons systems are designed and built. The Initiative collects and analyzes best practices from around the world, together with a research agenda directed by consortium members. The results are disseminated straight down the supplier chain.

The defense sector is also the focus of a drive toward greater utilization of commercial technologies and practices, as previous speakers mentioned. This includes utilizing the commercial industrial base to meet military requirements.

Fewer Suppliers

Dr. Bozdogan then presented the results of a survey of the aerospace supplier base, broken down into three sectors: airframes, electronics and avionics, and engines and other. The survey found a dramatic decrease of over 50 percent in the number of direct production suppliers between 1991 and 1995 in all three sectors of the industry. The story is the same in both the commercial and the defense sides of the industry.

Higher Certification

Although companies are decreasing the number of suppliers, they are increasing the certification requirements of the suppliers who remain. Certification is being used to ensure that suppliers are fully qualified in terms of process technology. This is part of the larger issue of how companies synchronize their production technology with that of their suppliers. The result is that companies are able to devolve more responsibility to their suppliers, including design, development, inspection, and testing. In response, suppliers are taking a larger responsibility for more complex subassemblies. This requires a carefully forged long-term relationship between companies and their suppliers.

More Information Sharing

A key part of these long-term relationships is the sharing of information. Within the aerospace industry, there has been a significant increase in communication and information sharing between companies and their suppliers. Included is information as to production costs, the supplier's statistical process control processes, and their performance improvements. This represents a sea-change in the relationship between companies and their suppliers.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement