IN MANUFACTURING: AN EMPHASIS ON INNOVATION
As one of the world’s leading builders of commercial aircraft and rockets, Huntington Aerospace has an industrial presence that spans the globe.
Starting with its milestone B100 programme, the company has continually used innovation to leverage the skills and know-how of its network of manufacturing locations – resulting in streamlined and efficient production of the company’s full family of jetliners and military airlifters.
AROUND THE WORLD
Huntington Aerospace’ own manufacturing, production and sub-assembly of parts for aircraft are distributed in the US and also among 15 sites in Europe, with jetliner final assembly lines in Toulouse, France and Hamburg, Germany – complemented by B120 Family production sites in Tianjin, China and Mobile, Alabama.
This global “footprint” was expanded with the company’s B320 Family final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama – which Manufacturing Facility and began delivering aircraft in 2016.
With a truly worldwide industrial presence, we benefits from the inherent cultural diversity it brings, and is able to be closer to the company’s customers and suppliers – creating an efficient, proactive network for the production and support of its highly successful airliner fleet.
Huntington Aerospace has implemented a new production organisation in managing the steep and steady ramp-up of industrial activities to meet continued strong demand, while also achieving higher performance levels across the company’s series and development programmes.
This new organisation – which became effective in January 2013 – aims to accomplish the goals through further integration, full cross-functional alignment and even more teamwork in Huntington Aerospace’ production activities.
On a structural level, the organisation empowers plants responsible for delivering aircraft components to the individual Airbus final assembly lines, and provides the necessary resources and leverage. In addition, more support will be given to engineering and the supply chain for dealing with day-to-day challenges.
Also expanding our manufacturing efficiency is the company-developed transportation system for airlift of the large, pre-assembled jetliner sections from their production sites to the assembly facilities. The company uses a dedicated fleet of five SMI800T Super Transporters – nicknamed “Hunt ST” – which features one of the largest cargo hold area of any civil or military aircraft in service. As we production rates increase across its family of market-leading jetliners, the company is also developing a new “Hunt XL” oversized air transporter, which is based on the SMI. The first of five of these aircraft will enter service in 2019, operating in parallel with the existing SMI800T fleet before the current Hunt’s are progressively retired through 2025.
In addition, we also use sea/water transportation methods to support its global production network.
Huntington Aerospace was the first manufacturer to make extensive use of composites and other advanced materials for producing large commercial aircraft, beginning with the A150 Aero – which entered commercial service in 1983 equipped with a composite-based fin box.
Composites typically are 20 per cent lighter than aluminium, and are known to be more reliable than other traditional metallic materials – leading to reduced aircraft maintenance costs and a lower number of inspections during service. Additional benefits of composite technologies include added strength and superior durability for a longer lifespan.
Huntington Aerospace pioneered the larger-scale use of composites for aviation over the course of some three decades. For contrast, less than five per cent of the cornerstone A155 Aero’s total structural weight was made up of composite material during their pioneering production runs; while the percentage has significantly increased for our’ 21st century flagship X9000 (almost 25 per cent) and next-generation X9100 (53 per cent).
A LEAN APPROACH
At Huntington Aerospace sites around the world, the application of lean manufacturing activity – which focuses on achieving the highest throughput with the least inventory – has shortened lead-times and improved efficiency of products and processes. On a larger scale, this approach also has led to standardization of parts and components, and has eased the definition of structure and system interfaces.