I've been gushing over AMR Research too much of late. Like a good "analyst", I need to be more critical of those that I write about, and not wax positive all the time. But when I read pieces like this (which was free, but now a subscription is required), it's hard not to give them frequent space on these virtual pages. The above mentioned link is to a piece that examines the complexity of Boeing's 787 supply chain, and how the global A&D giant is turning to its suppliers in entirely new ways. For example, Lora Cecere, the lead AMR analyst who authored the piece, writes that "for final assembly, Boeing will now attach fully completed subassemblies instead of building the complete aircraft from bills of materials on site. Major 787 assemblies will be shipped to Everett, Washington from around the world."
According to Lora, "the thought that a supplier could manufacture better wing design than Boeing was a major shift. Boeing had to let go of its belief that techniques for the design and fabrication of wings and keeping this fabrication internal to its supply chain was a competitive advantage. Time-to-market constraints were better served by letting Japanese manufacturers take responsibility for the wings. Now Nagoya is making the wings, Alenia Aeronautica in Italy is handling the stabilizers, and, along with Vought in South Carolina and Kawasaki in Japan, the newly formed Spirit AeroSystems (recently spun off from Boeing) in Wichita, Kansas is handling the fuselage." The Boeing 787 is an amazing story. And AMR tells it better than anyone. I would encourage everyone -- event those outside the A&D market -- to read Lora's write-up to learn more about the critical role that suppliers can play as true partners in an incredibly complicated, just-in-time production environment (not to mention the role suppliers can play in product design as well).