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Just In Time -- If Supply Chain Management is the Answer, What's the Question? IndustryWeek
Sun, 2008-05-11 00:11
Supply chain worst practices are becoming an epidemic throughout the industry. May 2008 was supposed to be the month when aerospace giant Boeing Co. debuted its "game-changing" 787 Dreamliner, the month when supply chain management as we know it would take that next evolutionary step forward and prove that an extended enterprise -- in Boeing's case, outsourcing the entire production of its new aircraft to suppliers, with Boeing itself finishing the plane at the final assembly stage -- was an idea whose time had finally come. But a funny thing happened on the way to Boeing's coronation as a game-changer: The roll-out of the first Dreamliner got postponed, not once, not twice, but three times, with the program now delayed a good 15 months. In a sense, Boeing has succeeded in changing the way we think about supply chain management, but unfortunately, not in a good way -the Dreamliner nightmare is threatening to set back the cause of supply chain management by several years at least. I'm not referring to the production problems, parts shortages or even technological snafus that have derailed the project. What troubles me the most is how quick Boeing has been to blame its suppliers for every missed deadline, insisting that the suppliers weren't up to the task of delivering components and finished sections on time (or ever), leaving unanswered the question, "So who exactly is managing Boeing's extended supply chain, then?"
Emblematic of Boeing's patchwork approach to the Dreamliner project was its recent decision to acquire Vought Aircraft Industries' interest in Global Aeronautica, a move that signaled that Boeing's goal of jobbing out key assembly tasks to suppliers wasn't working, so they might as well just go back and do it themselves. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of supply chain management, is it? And then we...
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