Boeing's 787 … A Picture Tells a Thousand Supply Risks

As the cliché goes, a picture can tell a thousand words. In my view, a picture can also tell a thousand supply risks. Supply Chain Digest recently feature a Wall Street Journal diagram highlighting where all of the major assemblies for Boeing's 787 originate. For those familiar with the supplier-related recent delays in the 787 program, this picture should not be surprising. It shows how reliant -- dependent is perhaps a better word -- Boeing is on its partners for the 787 program. According to the accompanying text, "In the past, Boeing would either directly manufacture most components or outsource only individual parts that Boeing would then assemble itself ... [but] for the 787, Boeing outsourced large sections of the airplane to tier 1 suppliers, who in turn outsourced significant portions of their work to tier 2 suppliers. Boeing's strategy was to serve as the final assembler of these large sections, reducing the historical production time in Boeing's Seattle factory from a month for large aircraft to just 3-4 days." What's the result been so far, you ask? A lean, mean, not-flying delayed machine.

- Jason Busch

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