Getting Lean driving customer satisfaction and improved competitiveness

The production of ailerons for the Airbus A320 has paved the way for the successful introduction of the Lean initiative at Saab Aerostructures. The results to date have been outstanding when it comes to delivery precision, production rates and improvement of work.

Saab signed the contract with Airbus to produce ailerons for the A320 in 1999. At Saab, it was noted that the design and production system for ailerons could be changed in order to make it more efficient. This sparked the development of a new design and production system. The innovative new design offered the same functions and properties as before with just half the number of components. The new production system is a paced line that is based on lean principles. The result is that production times and costs have decreased significantly. Over the years, almost 500 improvements, large and small, have been introduced resulting in better quality and 100% delivery precision to the customer.

To get a better insight in Saab Aerostructures lean initiatives, Mats Karlström Lean Officer at business unit Saab Aerostructures answers a few questions.

What is lean? “Lean is about customer satisfaction, development of employees, leadership and continued improvements. If you want a definition I would say ‘Lean is the discipline to follow a process and the will to continuously improve it’”

Why is lean good for business? “By using lean principles, tools and methods you will improve health and safety for employees, improve customer satisfaction (good quality and delivery precision) and reduce cost by elimination of waste and disturbances. If you are persistent in your lean efforts and focus on continuous improvements, you will build a stronger organisation and over time improve competitiveness.“

How do Saab Aerostructures work with lean? “We see lean as an integrated part of our strategy work and this is incorporated into the business plan and policy deployment all the way through to the management team, to the departments,  to groups and finally right down to individual goals.
In the organisation, all employees have two jobs, the first, is the one you are employed to do and the other one is to improve. It is most important that all people have the possibility to improve the processes they are working in. To support the organisation we have a lean team which provides methods, tools and support to do this.”

Lean scholarship for work with Ailerons for Airbus A320 Two employees within the Aerostructures business unit of Saab have been awarded a lean scholarship for the way they have driven the lean process within the Aileron programme. The annual scholarship is awarded to Saab employees who are making a major contribution to improved efficiency within the company’s operations. The scholarship is used to further highlight the recipients in their roles as change managers. The scholarship was awarded to Ulf Grufman and Patrik Johansson, both production managers for assembly and composites within the aileron programme.