Original Date: 09/14/1998
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Lean Aerospace Initiative
The Lean Aerospace Initiative (LAI) was developed in 1993 to enhance the implementation of lean manufacturing practices and principles into the defense and aerospace industries. This consortium is sponsored by the Air Force and administered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with 18 member companies. LAI’s mission is to define roadmaps for fundamental change based on lean practices. Raytheon Missile Systems Company (RMSC) (formerly Hughes) has supported LAI since its inception, and been one of the principal developers and implementers of lean processes and methods.
The LAI consortium developed the Lean Enterprise Model (LEM) which characterizes the practices and principles necessary for a lean enterprise. LAI uses four task groups which focus on factory operations; product development; supplier relations; and policy and external environment. The consortium also facilitates benchmarking with member companies, and encourages enterprise-wide systematic change. LAI’s vision is to significantly reduce the cost and cycle time for military aerospace products throughout the value chain, while continuing to improve product performance.
The implementation of the overarching principles and supporting practices of the lean manufacturing concept provides a well-documented database of proven lean practices that enhance the elimination of waste from enterprise operations. The result is products with higher quality, lower costs, and improved schedules. RMSC adopted all of the overarching lean principles, and enacted programs and practices which implemented lean operations in all its factories and centers of business. Since 1996, RMSC has been testing the LEM as new versions are released. The company is using the lean philosophies and guiding principles, and obtaining the results described in the LEM data sheets and metrics. RMSC is changing its culture to make lean principles an integral part of its day-to-day business and, in the process, is improving customer satisfaction, cost, and quality. Figure 2-9 depicts the relationship between the LEM and RMSC’s strategies.
Participation in the LAI consortium has been a win-win situation for all members. The consortium leverages knowledge development and application in less time and for less cost, as well as broadens the understanding of lean opportunities across the value chain and the enterprise. LAI operates as a source for benchmarking with other aerospace firms and as a method for verifying lean practices and metrics. By using this approach to understand and leverage lean practices and to implement those practices into the enterprise, RMSC eliminated significant waste from its enterprise processes. A consortia approach also provides a direct understanding of a major customer’s (e.g., Air Force) expectations.
Figure 2-9. Lean Enterprise Model Comparison to Major RMSC Strategies
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