Original Date: 06/05/2006
Revision Date: / /
Best Practice : Factory Transition Process
Rockwell Collins has developed a factory transition process that has clearly defined the events, actions, and milestones necessary to successfully transition a product from project conception to the factory. Established processes allow Rockwell Collins to implement proven methodologies in manufacturing sites throughout the enterprise that have resulted in improved quality, cost, and schedules once production starts.
Since 1984 Rockwell Collins has employed a modification center (Mod Center) where work is done on new products for commercial business customers. The Mod Center employed highly experienced assembly operators from the factory to build new product designs for engineering. Operators were considered an extension of the engineering labs but did not operate under any established processes that determined when the new designs were ready for production. This resulted in many new designs being released that were not ready for production, negatively impacting quality, cost, and schedules to both the program and the customers.
In 1998 the Product Transition Integrated Product Team was formed that leveraged cross-functional personnel from all major business groups to establish a factory transition process for both commercial and government products. The team conducted a lean event, mapping core processes that incorporated the Mod Center as an integral part of the transition procedure. This resulted in the new Factory Transition Procedure, which defines events, actions, and significant milestones necessary for the orderly transition of a product from project conception to the factory for successful production. Compliance with the process requires close communication and coordination among manufacturing, engineering, program management, and other related functions. Progress toward a mature design for full-scale production is assessed using a manufacturing introductory index.
The core Factory Transition Process outlines preproduction flow, defines production flow, summarizes test plans, and identifies key project milestones. The process is strategically aligned with essential Department of Defense program acquisition milestones that include Preliminary Design Review (PDR), Critical Design Review (CDR), Test Readiness Review (TRR), and Production Readiness Review (PRR). Beginning early in the development phase and continuing through initial production deliveries, the transition process identifies key components that focus on optimizing design and development in a more flexible environment prior to transition to full-scale production.
A process value stream maps key components with relation to essential program milestones: Pre-milestone PDR components are considered initial stage one and set the foundation for future process execution and requirements. Production planning, initial test plans, project team memberships, initial manufacturing and transition plans, material resource planning (MRP) demands, and developmental bill of materials (BOM) release are fundamental to project success
Post-milestone PDR components expand initial stage one requirements by defining test equipment, develop hardware and software test documentation, official BOM release, parts procurement, and building engineering models
Milestone CDR, TRR, and PRR components further expand stage one components by adding official engineering BOM release, defined hardware and software test plans, defined production test equipment, circuit card respin, manufacturing drawing release, and knowledge exchange to production in preparation for transition.
The development of a factory transition process has allowed Rockwell Collins to extend proven methodologies to manufacturing sites throughout the company. The implementation of experienced cross-functional teams has placed importance on previously neglected areas vital to a successful transition to production. An early focus on an advanced action list of material and long lead items, emphasis on production test plans and equipment, forecasted product development risks and maturity, controlled configurations, and improved quality, cost ,and schedules once production starts have resulted in preproduction transition cost reductions of 40%-50% since 1999.
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