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Wednesday
May262010

Video: Boeing 777 And The 'All Moving' Assembly Line (.00142 mph)

 The assembly line method of manufacturing wasn't invented by Henry Ford, in fact it was Ransom Olds (as in Oldsmobile) who patented the idea for automobile manufacturing in 1901, 7 years before Henry adopted (and possibly perfected) the concept.  It's clear however that this style of manufacturing drastically changed the quantity of production and the cost of products that would begin at one end as pieces and parts and were pushed out the other end as completed items.

 But what about large commercial airplanes?  It's interesting that Boeing didn't adopt a 'moving' assembly line until the year 2000, at the 717 facility in Long Beach, California.  The 717 was a re-branded MD-95 that came out of the Boeing / McDonnell Douglas merger in 1997.  That experience made it clear that a moving assemble line offered many benefits, even for large aircraft that were produced in relatively small numbers.

 In 2002, Boeing adopted the process on the 737 line, and while the effort to convert the 777 line to 'all moving' began in 2006, it wasn't until recently that the entire 777 line began trucking along at about 1 and a half inches per minute (which I calculate out to about .00142 mph)!  The effort required to convert a stationary build method to a moving assembly line on an airplane with about 3 million parts is mind boggling to say the least... but the payoff has been a reduction in assembly time from 26 days per aircraft to just 17.  That's huge.

 I find the whole crazy process to be fascinating, and this excellent video from Boeing is very interesting to watch.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

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