Koons, George F.; Muir, G. Lynn; Todaro, Tammy J. (1990, ASQC) McDonnell Aircraft Co., St. Louis, MO; Hercules Aerospace Co., Magna, UT
Hercules Aerospace Company is a major supplier of the composite material that McDonnell Aircraft uses to fabricate parts for military aircraft. In response to its customers request, Hercules had built a production line capable of producing composite broadgoods material up to 48 inches wide. During the qualification phase for the wider material, intermittent quality problems were occurring. Adjustments that were made to the operating practices had not completely eliminated the problems.
Since quality improvement was of mutual interest to both the supplier and the customer, the two companies collaborated in the investigation of the problem. A multi-functional project team, consisting of personnel from both companies, was created. Hercules' representatives were chosen from the manufacturing, engineering, quality, and customer technical support functions. A methods engineer from the area that uses the material and a statistician were added from McDonnell Aircraft to complement the supplier's team.
After considerable discussion of possible approaches, it was decided that the focus of the investigation should be to assess whether variations in operating parameters about their target settings could appreciably influence the product's performance. Seven potentially significant operating parameters were identified, and a statistically based experimental plan was developed. Particular attention was given to defining a meaningful, quantitative measure of product performance. The experimental work was also shared. Hercules manufactured the material and fabricated the test panels. McDonnell tested the panels in its non-destructive inspection facilities and made full size trial parts.
All the experimental panels were well within the limits of acceptability although some variation did exist. The effect of each operating factor was quantified. In comparison to the experimental error, none of the operating parameters was considered to have a significant effort on product performance. This confirmed the target parameters were correct and suggested that future improvement activities should be directed toward the part assembly process rather than material manufacturing. The experimental results also provided a "bonus". Since none of the operating factors had a significant effect on product performance, they could be safely modified within the limits investigated. One factor was changed to achieve a reduction in the cost of the operation.
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