Original Date: 06/05/2006
Revision Date: / /
Rockwell Collins has been a recognized leader in the design, production, and support of communication and aviation electronics for more than 70 years. With headquarters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the company’s 74 service locations and 14 factory locations worldwide serve a domestic and international customer base of government and commercial clients. The Cedar Rapids facility is home to 8,000 customer-focused and performance-driven employees whose mission is to provide communications and electronics products, systems, and solutions for the military (communications and integrated systems), business and regional aircraft customers (aircraft at or below 100 seats), and air transport (original equipment manufacturers and airlines). The BMP Survey was conducted at the Rockwell Collins headquarters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the week of June 5, 2006. This is BMP’s 150th survey to date and its third survey of the Cedar Rapids facility since 1985 – a reflection of the company’s adherence to continuous improvement and willingness to share its best practices with the U.S. industrial base.
Since its 1933 founding as Collins Radio, Rockwell Collins and its products have been recognized for distinctive quality and state-of-the-art technology. Founder Arthur Collins initially designed and produced short-wave radio equipment that captured the world’s attention when Collins supplied the communications equipment used to establish a link with the South Pole expedition of Rear Admiral Richard Byrd in 1933. During the next three decades, acquisitions and alliances enabled Rockwell Collins to branch out into all phases of communications while broadening its technology thrust into numerous other disciplines. Collins Radio played a significant role in America’s space program, providing communications equipment for astronauts to communicate with earth stations and equipment to track and communicate with spacecraft. Collins communication equipment was used for the Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury programs, providing voice communication for every American astronaut traveling through space. In 1973, the U.S. Skylab Program used Collins equipment for the astronauts to communicate to earth.
In 1973 Collins Radio was acquired by Rockwell International, a high-technology company that further strengthened the company’s focus on aviation electronics. On June 29, 2001, Rockwell Collins, Inc. was spun off from Rockwell International. The subsequent acquisition of several companies has provided Rockwell Collins the opportunity to expand relationships with customers while supplying advanced avionics solutions.
The Cedar Rapids facility serves as the Operations Headquarters of Rockwell Collins and is comprised of five key areas: Manufacturing (government and commercial), Enterprise Product Assurance, Material & Supply, Operations Advanced Operations and Services, and Operations Finance. Thirty percent of the products produced in the company’s 14 manufacturing locations worldwide are less than three years old, while other products that are produced and serviced were designed in the 1960s.
Rockwell’s government customers are impacting the company’s productivity efforts with changing military operational requirements that demand fast, flexible, real-time communications on the ground, in the air, and at sea. Rockwell Collins’ advanced capabilities provide upgrades to aging systems, war-related procurements, and network- centric operation supply solutions to the Department of Defense for achieving battlespace information superiority.
Rockwell’s commercial systems supply avionics and cabin electronics to business aviation and commercial air transport operations worldwide by supporting new and retrofit applications. Current market dynamics are having a significant impact on the future growth of Rockwell Collins’ commercial operations as orders for new air transport and business jets accelerates, flight hours increase, and the demand for operational efficiency and connectivity also increases. Rockwell Collins commercial systems’ advanced capabilities include next-generation information and flight display systems that enhance flight crew performance and reduce workload.
With lean manufacturing firmly in place, operations are driven by value stream mapping, grouping all top-level assemblies by commonality of processes and defining processes by category. The company’s commitment to operational excellence by leveraging developments across both government and commercial markets has enabled Rockwell Collins to reduce costs, extend product viability, and enhance the capabilities of its systems. Rockwell Collins is the first company in the United States to implement an environmentally friendly conformal coating process that has enhanced product capabilities and provided environmental support across its products lines and customer base. The company’s Recycling Landfill Avoidance programs have earned Rockwell Collins national recognition as a corporate leader by the Environmental Protection Agency. By partnering with community and local businesses, impressive improvements in landfill usage per $100 million sales have been realized.
As a strong corporate presence in the community, Rockwell Collins saw a need to provide affordable technology to its schools and established the Rockwell Educational Access to Computer Technology (REACT) Center in 1999 to put technology into the hands of the students. The REACT Center serves as a center for receiving and refurbishing used computers from Rockwell Collins and other areas businesses, providing computers for student use in schools. Students and teachers have the opportunity to receive hands-on training at the REACT Center, building computers for their own classrooms and gaining a greater awareness in the use of “real-world” technology from volunteers who staff the REACT Center.
Because Rockwell Collins considers it employees to be the company’s greatest resource, every measure is taken to ensure their safety through a comprehensive safety program that focuses on preventive measures to evaluate the strength and quality of safety and health in all Rockwell facilities. In the company’s Coralville, Iowa facility, an ergonomics, coaching and overall safety structure has been established that has significantly decreased company costs due to a lowered employee injury rate. The Rockwell Collins Coralville facility is one of only 34 sites participating in the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) in the state of Iowa whose standards not only meet but exceed the VPP requirements.
Rockwell Collins’ implementation of “right-sized” in-line aqueous cleaning equipment and the company’s “new configuration” batch cleaning equipment provide significant environmental stewardship and cost savings while the implementation of Arena simulation software that provides process/flow simulation for small- and large-scale systems has resulted in significant cost avoidance on major programs throughout the company. Additional cost savings have been realized in the facilities area with the installation of a new heat exchanger and pump system that works in conjunction with existing cooling tools to reduce energy costs while prolonging the lifetime of the chillers. Rockwell Collins has partnered with Alliant Energy to develop on-site electrical generation to meet emergency needs and avoid the high-cost impact of uninterruptible power 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Today, Rockwell Collins is regarded as an industry leader in communications, navigation, automated flight control, displays/surveillance, aviation services, in-flight entertainment, integrated aviation solutions, and information management systems. The company’s $3.9 billion in sales revenue in FY2006 is a testimony to the success of its forward-thinking and aggressive business strategies.
The BMP Survey Team congratulates Rockwell Collins for winning the 2006 Best Manufacturing Practices Award for Excellence and considers the following practices in this report to be among the best in industry and government.
The following acronyms were used in this report:
APA Advanced Process Analysis
APO Automated Purchase Order
BOM Bill of Material
BW Business Warehouse
CDR Critical Design Review
CMS Chemical Management System
CNC Computer Numerical Control
COE Center of Excellence
CoP Community of Practice
CRGs Customer-Returned Goods
CTD Cumulative Trauma Disorder
DAGR Defense Advanced GPS Receiver
DFM Design for Manufacturing
DP Decision Point
DP&E Demand Planning and Execution
DPMs Defects Per Million
DSI Designated Self-Inspection Program
EDM Engineering Development Model
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
eRFQ Electronic Request for Quote
ES&H Environmental, Safety and Health
ESD Electrostatic Device
e-Waste Electronic Waste
GPS Global Positioning System
IBEW International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
IMPACT Integrated Master Parts Application Tool
IPT Integrated Product Team
JACT Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committee
JDAM Joint Direct Attack Munition
LCD Liquid Crystal Display
LCVSM Life Cycle Value Stream Management/Manager
LPWs Lean Pathways
LSP Lean Supply Program
MII Manufacturing Introductory Index
MPS Master Production Schedule
MRO Material-Related Overhead
MRP Manufacturing Resource Planning
ODS Ozone-Depleting Substance
OFS Optical Feedback System
OTD On-Time Delivery
PCB Printed Circuit Board
PCP Product Cost Pool
PDM Product Documentation Management
PDR Preliminary Design Review
PDT Program Data Tracker
PRR Production Readiness Review
PTIPT Product Transition Integrated Product Team
PWB Printed Wiring Board
R&H Run and Hold
REACT Rockwell Educational Access to Computer Technology
RFQ Request for Quote
SEA Supplier Excellence Alliance
SAAC Supplier Alliance Advisory Council
SMT Surface Mount Technology
SRU Shop Replaceable Unit
STEP Surveillance-Through-Excellence Program
TAT Turnaround Time
TCAS Traffic Control Avoidance System
TCO Total Cost of Ownership
TDAP Test Data Analysis Program
TDMS Test Data Management System
TRR Test Readiness Review
VSM Value Stream Mapping
WI Work Instruction
WIP Work in Proce
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