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Flow-production accelerates aircraft assembly 30 percent - take 1

Flow-production in the Gagarin Aircraft Plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur (KnAAZ) and the Chkalov plant in Novosibirsk (NAZ) of Sukhoi Company accelerated the production cycle 30 per cent. The experience of Sukhoi affiliates will be used at other enterprises of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) in Ulyanovsk and Irkutsk, the UAC said.

Flow production accelerates aircraft assembly 30 percent take 1 925 001 Su-35 fighter jet (Picture source: TASS)

"The introduction of lean manufacturing elements has long been systemic at UAC enterprises," Deputy CEO of the corporation for production Sergey Smirnov said.

"One of the main tasks of the aircraft industry is to increase labour productivity on the background of global competition. Lean technologies are an important factor for increasing productivity," he said.

The UAC annually holds contests to encourage lean manufacturing, exchange experience, introduce the most successful practices and production solutions at all enterprises. The Gagarin and the Chkalov enterprises won the flow-production contest in 2019. They pioneered a new approach to working space organization to optimize all operations, tools and units. It saves time and increases labour effectiveness.

Drawbacks were exposed in the layout of the workshops in KnAAZ and NAZ. The assembled units were not connected to the workplaces located in two rows. Aircraft were assembled in two stationary facilities. Workers had to go from one workplace to another. The supply of units took a lot of time.

Although both enterprises produce different output, they implemented the same procedure of improvements. Taskforces were set up and united assembly staff and IT services. Losses were then analyzed. "We saw that useful production time comprises only 55 per cent. The rest are non-production losses, the movement to get assignments and deliver units and components," head of the assembly workshop of KnAAZ Denis Garifullin said.

After the assignment was received, a lot of time was lost to wait for unit delivery from warehouses, unloading, checking the numbers, and verification. The workers then transported the units to the workplace. It took close to 40 minutes and each worker covered a distance of 310 meters.

The delivery of lacquer and paint was also analyzed. The point of shipment in Komsomolsk-on-Amur was in the other end of the workshop. A worker walked 1200 meters in 24 minutes. He had to take the materials, come back to the workplace, take tools and only then begin to work with the unit.

"The project aimed at launching lean manufacturing in the final assembly workshops of Sukhoi enterprises in Komsomolsk-on-Amur and Novosibirsk. It resulted in flow-line production, accelerated assembly cycle, and promoted optimal aircraft assembly pace at both enterprises," Garifullin said.

Unit movement scheme in workshops was improved to get rid of losses and the whole production cycle was monitored.

Flow-production was organized in Komsomolsk-on-Amur for Su-35 fighter jets and in Novosibirsk for Su-34 bombers.