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The Supply Chain of Boeing Report (Assessment)

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Updated: May 6th, 2020

The safety problems of Boeing 787 Dreamliner raised a great number of questions about the supply chain of this company as well as its reputation (Irving 1). One of the issues that are often discussed is the inability of the company to take control over the manufacturing and design process.

This paper is aimed at discussing the factors that could have contributed to the challenges that Boeing currently encounters. On the whole, it is possible to argue that Boeing failed to play the leading role of a leading assembler that could identify possible defects at an early stage. This is the reason why this corporation currently faces significant difficulties. This is the main argument that should be discussed in more detail.

It should be noted that the strategies of Boeing were subjected to criticism after two of their 787 Dreamliners caught fire due to the defects of their lithium batteries (Irving 1). These incidents prompted airlines and governmental agencies to ground these jet airliners (Irving 1). At this point, one cannot tell whether 787 Dreamliners will return to the market. There are several aspects should be considered in order to explain the origins of this flaws. It should be noted that Boeing strongly relied on outsourcing while developing this plane.

For instance, one can mention that this project involved 50 supplies; moreover, these organizations were working at 135 sites that were located in different countries (Walther 104). To a great extent, this approach was aimed at reducing the costs of development. However, one can argue that it is extremely difficult to monitor and guide the efforts of these different agencies.

Some limitations of this approach manifested themselves before the launch of this jetliner. For example, the company was not able to complete this project on time (Smock 57). When designing this airplane, the management of Boeing departed from its traditional approach to supply chain. As a rule, Boeing acted as the main producer that assembles the component parts provided by other firms (Tang 77).

In other words, this organization could detect possible defects. In contrast, while designing this jetliner, Boeing enabled other companies to act as assemblers (Tang 77). The company itself was supposed to foster cooperation among the suppliers. The most important indicator is that at least 70 percent of manufacturing processes were completed by business partners of Boeing (Tang 78).

This is the main difference that should be taken into account. At the very beginning, this approach only resulted in numerous delays. Nevertheless, it turned out that the problems were much more serious than the management expected. The main problem is that an organization might fail to ensure the quality of every component and assembly.

It should be noted Boeing often used the components manufactured by outside suppliers. Such a policy is not new for this company, and it is any possible for any organization to manufacture every component part.

For example, the lithium batteries installed on Dreamliner were produced in Japan (Plumer unpaged). Such a strategy can be quite justified because it helps to reduce operational expenses. Nevertheless, the suppliers of Boeing failed to detect the possible flaws of these lithium batteries or other component parts that could be the underlying cause of ignition.

Furthermore, even now the engineers cannot accurately ascertain the cause of these defects. This is one of the challenges that Boeing has to overcome now. More importantly, this corporation has to restore its reputation and regain the trust of major customers, especially airlines (Walther 104). This task is critical for competiveness of Boeing.

Overall, it is possible to identify several obstacles that Boeing could encounter while developing the Dreamliner. One of them is the necessity to coordinate the work of many agencies. This task might have been easier if Boeing had to work with several suppliers. Nevertheless, this activity becomes very challenging when a company has to interact with fifty suppliers.

Additionally, the corporation has to ensure the highest quality of the component parts. Again, Boeing was usually able to do it when the company was the main assembler of the component parts. However, in this case, Boeing entrusted this responsibility to other firms that could have very little experience in the assembly of jetliners. This is one of the main issues that can be identified. They resulted in the main deficiencies of their supply chain.

These examples indicate that the supply chain management can be critical for the long-term sustainability of manufacturing companies. The defects of 787 Dreamliner can threaten the reputation of Boeing, and this issue can be even important than the cost of recalling and repairing their airplanes.

One should take into account several important issues. First of all, outsourcing cannot be regarded as the only factor that contributed to the problem. As it has been said before, manufacturing companies inevitably have to use the components produced by other firms. The main problem is the failure to monitor the work of suppliers and ensure the highest quality standards. The management of this corporation should be aware of these challenges

Works Cited

Irving, Clive. “Dreamliner’s Nightmare.” Newsweek 161.2 (2013): 1. Print.

Plumer, Brad. “Is outsourcing to blame for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner woes?” The Washington Post 18 Jan. 2013. Web. 2013.
Smock, Doug. “Boeing’s Dreamliner Drives: Fastener Design.” Design News 63.5 (2008): 57-59. Print.

Tang, Christopher S., and Joshua D. Zimmerman. “Managing New Product

Development And Supply Chain Risks: The Boeing 787 Case.” Supply Chain Forum: International Journal 10.2 (2009): 74-86. Print

Walther, Gary. “Fly The Dreamy Skies.” Forbes 189.4 (2012): 104-106. Print.

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