Original Date: 10/20/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Pull System for Composite Center
Northrop Grumman’s Composite Center fabricates composite components for major airframe programs within the company. The process involves a variety of composite parts that are cut, bonded, sealed, cured, trimmed, assembled and tested. Previously, this process was based on a traditional Push System. A Push System put more parts onto the floor than is required for production and usually leads to a large volume of work-in-process, excessive inventories, significant overhead for tracking parts, large queue areas, and higher costs. In 1994, the Composite Center implemented a Pull System to lower its work-in-process, reduce cycle times, reduce operating expenses, and eliminate non-value added tasks.
By using a Pull System, the Composite Center can place material onto the production floor based on the rate of customer demand. The key to the Pull System is its concentration on bottlenecks: focusing on weak links, responding quickly to defects, solving problems, and using a cross-trained workforce. The system’s philosophy is to keep parts moving throughout the production floor before new parts are issued for the next job.
Since implementing the Pull System, Northrop Grumman decreased the amount of floor space needed for parts storage, increased factory capacity, resolved problems quicker, and reduced the number of parts with the same defects. The most significant benefit is the company’s reduction of parts cycle time through the production process. Average cycle time was reduced from 62 to 13 days.
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