Yesterday, I dutifully wrote up Boeing’s bi-monthly call about the progress of the now twice-delayed first flight of the 787 Dreamliner. The first commerical deliveries have been pushed back from May to December, 2008.
While new 787 GM Pat Shanahan, who has a reputation as a tough taskmaster, said progress has been made ironing out parts shortages, unfinished software and kinks in its global supply chain, it’s clear that huge risks to full production ramp-up remain along with the probability of more delays. Shanahan, who replaced former GM Mike Bair in October, is sticking to the goal of delivering 109 planes by the end of 2009 and 40 by the end of next year.
But skeptics think Boeing’s novel global plan to outsource 70% of the planes subsystems holds the company’s hostage to farflung third party suppliers. The ambitious plan is fraught with potential breaks in the supply chain. Indeed, Bair spokes about this in early November, charging that because some suppliers have stumbled so badly, Boeing would not use them again. Many think Boeing should substantially pare back initial production. The most succinct account of Bair’s unusual speech is in the Seattle Post Intelligencer.
That was an extraordinary moment of candor for the usually seceretive Boeing, which has taken an uncharacteristically high profile with the 787. Word was that Boeing executives and partners were furious over Bair’s comments. Asked about Bair’s comment in yesterday’s call, Scott Carson, president and CEO of Boeing’s commercial planes division, zinged Bair by saying he had "been backed into a corner" presumably by suppliers. For the most part, the revised schedule is on track and problems are being straightened out, Shanahan said matter of factly. And Shanahan took his swipe when he said Bair applied "brute force" to fix supply problems instead of disciplined processes.
But now we know the Bair truth and that is Boeing’s complex supply chain puts it at the mercy of its suppliers. And if one fails, 787 production could come to a screeching halt.
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.