Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Lean Manufacturing and Environment

Goodrich Corporation

Background

Goodrich Corporation is a leading global supplier of nose to tail products and services to the aerospace industry, making everything from landing gear to evacuation systems and flight controls to engine satellite systems. Major customers include commercial, military, regional, business, space, and general aviation aircraft manufacturers, operators, and suppliers. The company is also a globally recognized premier supplier of aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services. Goodrich Aerostructures, a division of Goodrich Corporation, is the world's leading independent full-service supplier of nacelles, pylons, thrust reversers, and other structural aircraft components.

In the early to mid-1990s, customer pressure to improve performance at the Rohr Riverside, California facility was of such concern that management evaluated options that included moving work and closing the plant. Airframe and engine customers were also putting increasing pressure on the plant to improve its production activities.

While attending a Lean Manufacturing training seminar offered by the Lean Enterprise Institute Exit Disclaimer, the General Manager of the facility realized that the continuous improvement efforts that they had started were in fact a "rudimentary model" of the Toyota Production System. Soon after this, the Riverside plant began to implement Lean Manufacturing techniques with vigor.

Top of page

Lean Implementation at Goodrich

In 1995 and 1996, the Riverside plant worked to aggressively implement lean techniques, adapting tools from the Toyota Production System. Efforts expanded as early successes and productivity improvements won increasing commitment from company senior leadership.

Later in 1996, Goodrich Aerostructures began applying lean techniques to administrative processes at the Riverside plant. In 1997, Goodrich Aerostructures moved to improve alignment of its organizational culture, structure, and strategy with its expanding lean operational initiatives through policy deployment. By 1999, Goodrich Aerostructures was expanding lean implementation efforts throughout many of its U.S. production facilities, and lean enterprise, and the ability to continually improve, was becoming a core competency of the organization.

Since 2000, efforts have focused on continual improvement and "value stream alignment" – structuring the organization around value streams (e.g., pylon components for Boeing's 757 airplane, or nacelle components for Airbus A319, A320, A321), instead of around a conventional functional orientation (e.g., milling, chemical treatment).

Goodrich Aerostructures managers indicated that the impending crisis of facility closure was a powerful driver for the transition to lean. Significant focus and energy were necessary to implement the "mechanical" aspects of change, including

  1. linkage and flow of process steps,
  2. right-sizing of tooling and equipment,
  3. identification of standard work, and
  4. the implementation of visual controls.

Company representatives reported, however, that the "cultural" aspects of change, including (1) leadership role, engagement, and behavior, (2) employee engagement, and (3) real time problem resolution, have proven to be most challenging. As one strategy to address the cultural aspects of change, manufacturing managers and engineers have moved their offices out to the shop floor, improving real time problem resolution. Even with senior management support and commitment, however, changing organizational culture requires substantial effort and powerful drivers.

As part of its lean implementation efforts, Goodrich Aerostructures uses a variety of tools which the company has adapted from the Toyota Production System. Goodrich Aerostructures managers indicated that "policy deployment provides focus, alignment, and linkage. Lean tools provide the means to identify and eliminate waste."

Rapid improvement events serve as a key tool for driving a waste elimination-focused culture change. For example, Goodrich Aerostructures facilities conduct more than 350 kaizen rapid improvement events each year to identify and eliminate waste from particular business and production processes. Goodrich Aerostructures also uses 3P (Pre-Production Planning), which focuses on eliminating waste through process and product design. In these rapid improvement efforts, employee teams are encouraged to move toward the "least waste way."

As the use of lean tools became a mainstream part of facility operations, company Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) personnel have worked to integrate EHS considerations and needs into lean tools and initiatives. For example, EHS objectives must be identified for each kaizen event and recorded on the "scope sheet" for the event. Efforts are also made to involve EHS personnel in events that are likely to have important environmental dimensions, risks, or opportunities.

More recently, Goodrich Aerostructures has begun to use kaizen and other lean techniques to explicitly target EHS issues, expanding the lean definition of "manufacturing wastes" to include environmental wastes and risks. As another example, a safety kaizen event included having a team identify trip hazards in the plant and mark them with helium balloons to raise employee awareness and to ensure their elimination.

Goodrich Aerostructures managers identified an interesting transition at the plants that has moved them away from the use of conventional "return-on-investment" (ROI) decision-making for determining whether to make operational or capital improvements. Many change projects are now driven by company lean continuous improvement efforts, with attention paid to process flow and linkage, cycle times, and other capital productivity metrics, as driven by Policy Deployment. An interesting question is "do traditional accounting practices provide a balance sheet rather than a tool to manage a business?"

Top of page

Examples of Lean Initiatives and Results

Conversion to Product-Aligned Cellular Manufacturing

As part of its lean focus several Goodrich Aerostructures sites have dramatically changed the manufacturing layout of their facilities. The conversion from a batch and queue mass production layout to a one piece pull, cellular layout generally entails significant movement of equipment. In this lean approach, production activities are rearranged into cells which link process steps in the order needed to create a continuous, one-piece flow to make the product. Instead of big centralized departments and machines for milling, parts cleaning, painting, and other process steps, small, "right-sized" machines are placed where they are needed in production cells. In effect, the cellular approach brings the process to the product component, rather than continually moving and storing the product component to take it through process steps.

At Goodrich Aerostructures Chula Vista, California facility, several production cells include right-sized painting and degreasing stations. Referred to as "little houses on the prairie," these movable (on metal skids), enclosed stations enabled workers to degrease and paint small parts without needing to take them to large, centralized degreasing tanks and paint booths. This creates substantial improvements in productivity, with ancillary environmental benefits associated with reduced chemical and paint use, waste generation, and air emissions since the equipment is sized to clean and paint the particular components produced in the cell.

Goodrich Aerostructures representatives indicated that the business case for developing right-sized parts washers, paint booths, and chemical treatment baths been based on environmental improvement factors such as reduced chemical use, hazardous waste generation, and air emissions, they would not have been undertaken. In reality, the environmental benefits were not calculated in making the business case. Improving "flow and linkage" in the production process, and reducing the capital and time intensity of production, overshadowed other benefits, creating a compelling case for the conversion to a right-sized, cellular manufacturing environment. Savings in operational costs, such as reduced chemical or material use and reduced waste disposal costs, may be significant, but they are significantly smaller than business benefits achieved from reduced capital and time intensity of production. In other words, the business case for change did not enter through the "green door."

Significant productivity benefits, a primary driver for the conversion, improve the "flow and linkage" of production process steps. For example, metal skins for the Boeing 717 fan cowls traveled 17,000 feet through the plant and took 43 days to manufacture. Following the conversion to cellular manufacturing, the metal skins travel 4,300 feet and are made in 7 days. In addition, since products and parts typically are not produced in large batches in cellular manufacturing, inventory needs are dramatically reduced, freeing up plant floor space.

As a result of its conversion to a cellular manufacturing layout, Goodrich Aerostructures consolidated the manufacturing operations at the Chula Vista facility into two buildings from five while doubling output as a result of implementing lean methods. This decreased overall facility space needs by more than 50 percent, enabling the facility to sell property to the city for waterfront redevelopment.

In most situations, reconfiguration of the manufacturing layout requires rapid, and sometimes iterative, change. Conversions must be made quickly to reduce production downtime. For example, Goodrich Aerostructures Group's San Marcos plant reconfigured the production layout of its 100,000 square foot facility in one week-long kaizen rapid improvement event. To facilitate such a massive and rapid configuration, the plant assembled a cross-functional team that included diverse skill-sets ranging from fork lift operation to electrical work to plumbing. Iterative changes are often necessary to optimize the cellular layout, or to accommodate the addition of new production cells.

Top of page

Standard Work and Visual Controls

A core element of lean manufacturing at Goodrich Aerostructures has focused on reducing the variability in work practices by identifying standard work. In some cases, standard work procedures are documented in easy to read, laminated checklists affixed in production cells. Goodrich Aerostructures representatives indicated that they seek to incorporate environmental, health, and safety activities directly into standard work practices.

Other visual controls are added throughout the plant to ensure that standard work practices are followed and to keep the facility well organized. For example, "kits" are assembled for workers that include only those parts, tools, and chemicals needed to perform their standard work practice. The primary driver for the use of kits is to save time and ensure consistent quality by eliminating the need for the workers to "chase down" parts, tools, and materials or to use tools or materials that are not optimal for the job.

At the same time, there are numerous environmental benefits that can result from standard work and visual controls. For example, standard work, visual controls, and kits can significantly reduce waste from defective work, scrap material, and packaging. With "everything in its place," trip and spill hazards are also reduced.

Goodrich Aerostructures representatives provided numerous examples of environmental benefits that resulted on the coattails of lean implementation efforts, although these benefits did not factor into the business case for change and were seldom quantified. It should also be noted that standard work and visual controls do not eliminate opportunities for workers to exercise creativity, since they are engaged in defining their standard work practices, developing associated visual controls, and working to continually improve these systems through kaizen rapid improvement events.

Top of page

Lean Chemical Management

Goodrich Aerostructures facilities in California shifted to lean point-of-use chemical management systems to eliminate wasted worker movement and downtime. As an additional benefit, these shifts reduced chemical use and associated hazardous waste generation.

Under the lean system, employees in many work areas that require chemical primers, bonders, or other substances receive right-sized amounts – just what they need to perform their job – in work kits or from "water striders" who courier materials to the point-of-use (sometimes on tricycles). This avoids situations where chemicals are dispensed or mixed in quantities greater than needed, which both decreases chemical use and hazardous waste generation. Goodrich has also worked with suppliers to get just-in-time delivery of chemicals in smaller, right-sized containers. This minimizes the chance of chemicals expiring in inventory.

At one California plant, Goodrich Aerostructures point-of-use and just-in-time chemical management system has enabled the company to eliminate four 5,000 gallon tanks containing methyl ethyl ketone, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, and trichloroethane. This eliminated the potential for large scale spills associated with these tanks, as well as the need to address risk management planning and other chemical management requirements for these tanks under Section 112 of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

Top of page

Hazardous Waste Minimization Kaizen Event

Now that kaizen rapid improvement events have become a routine aspect of plant operations, EHS personnel are beginning to explicitly target environmental waste streams and risks with lean techniques. For example, one kaizen event in 2002 focused on conducting a rapid assessment of hazardous environmental waste streams at the plant. Activities during the 2-day kaizen event included

  1. identification of all hazardous environmental waste streams in a portion of the plant,
  2. estimation of the total costs associated with managing these waste streams,
  3. survey of staff about hazardous waste management practices, and
  4. development of measurements to track progress toward reducing waste streams.

Follow-on activities and kaizen events have identified and implemented various pollution prevention and process improvement techniques that target reductions in priority waste streams.

Top of page

3P and Product and Process Design

Goodrich Aerostructures has increasingly focused lean thinking on the design of products and processes. Lean techniques, such as 3P, are being used to eliminate waste – including materials, time, and complexity – out of products from the beginning. In some cases, Goodrich Aerostructures involves representatives from its customers or supply chain in these design events to ensure that diverse perspectives and needs are considered.

Rethinking product and process design can produce significant environmental benefits. For example, Goodrich found that they could meet customer specifications, increase bond strength, and reduce process flow time, while eliminating chrome from some of its anodizing process steps. Product and Process Design continues to be a significant focus for Aerostructures. Designing parts, products, processes and supportive processes and systems that provide the opportunity to maximize the return to the business by, amongst other things, minimizing EHS issues is of paramount importance. This aspect of the business is reaping rewards much beyond expectations.

Top of page

Jump to main content.