FARNBOROUGH, UK: BAE Systems is developing a brand new approach to manufacturing aircraft in order to meet the unprecedented one-aircraft-per-day eventual production rate for the F-35 Lightning II.
An aft fuselage and a set of empennage units (vertical and horizontal tails) currently roll off the F-35 production line at BAE Systems every 15 days. The target across the next four years is to reduce to this to one every day.
At the Company’s Samlesbury site, where the F-35’s aft fuselage is built, a team from across BAE Systems’ Military Air Solutions business stripped one of the six work stations back to its bare floor and walls to examine the approach and techniques reauird to achieve the rate increase.
The exercise looked at every stage of the manufacturing process from the supply of parts, quality control and fuselage assembly to the different roles of people on the team. This has led to the team adopting a significantly different approach including a newly-created mock-up of how the work stations could be reconfigured as well as a 100-day plan for improvements.
This has led to the team adopting a significantly different approach, including a newly-created mock-up of how the work stations could be reconfigured, and an overall 100-day plan for delivering the production rate increase.
Keith Moore, BAE Systems Production Manager for the aft assembly line, said: “We looked at what was adding value and what wasn’t, and we looked at how we could remove the non-value added activity and waste from the process.
“As the 100-day plan is discharged and we start to see the benefits of it, the build time will drop as we are able to speed up the assembly in work station one. We’ll then move this process down the line to the other five stations, so they will also benefit from the plan.”
BAE Systems F-35 Managing Director, Mick Ord, said: “The challenge of producing one aft fuselage and empennage in a day is considerable but one I am confident we can meet. With F-35 being the biggest defence production programme of its type, the prize is huge and we are well on target to achieve it.”