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August 2007 edition

Manufacturing efficiency drive can benefit from the Formula One pit stop mentality

Aircraft manufacturing's drive for more efficiency and lower costs can gain a lot of mileage by fostering the Formula One "pit stop mentality" on the production line.

Stephane Leblanc, Bombardier's program director for the Challenger 605, says that enhancing pre-production activities and optimising green aircraft can also bring end-product benefits, as can eliminating the waste of time engendered by bottlenecks or breaks in the assembly process.

Leblanc is a big fan of Formula One. "If a racing car is in the pits for seven seconds instead of 9.2 seconds, that can make the difference between winning and losing," says Leblanc. "In a production situation the technician or worker needs everything at hand to be productive. So somebody needs to do the running to make sure that everything is where it should be, when it is required. Production efficiency is very much about the elimination of waste and the continuous uninterrupted use of time in the production cycle."

Leblanc adds: "For the Challenger 605, we focused on reducing weight. Our target was a net 200lbs for a completed aircraft and we managed to achieve this target even though we added some options to the baseline interior which meant we had to reduce the weight by more than our original target. We completely redesigned the wiring for the green aircraft for more efficient use of wire gauges and optimised routing of wi....

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