Stimulating new production methods

A contest can really speed up creativity. The in-house mastership in innovative production development that Aerostructures recently arranged is an especially good example of this. The goal was to halve the time spent for conducting a given task in non-destructive testing in the composite shop.

The contest was underway for one week. Each team was made up of four persons – operators from the composite shop, maintenance and production engineering.

The first step was to carry out a thorough observation of today's work methods. A brainstorming session was next, which passed into a "try storm" with the teams building small prototypes to demonstrate their ideas. A selection process resulted in one proposal being built in full-scale. A number of simulations of the new process were conducted with the full-scale model – the more simulations, the greater the chance of discovering and correcting as many problems as possible. Thereafter the teams demonstrated how work was conducted and ran a simulation showing that the solution worked. 

Innovation contest

Image: The teams built small prototypes to demonstrate their ideas.

"It's good to try new methods and ways of working where we dare to challenge ourselves with highly placed demands for improvement.," say composite shop manager Anna Baglioni. "If we're going to be able to compete, we need to break with ingrained patterns. If we just lie back and are satisfied with the way things are, there is a major risk of being left behind."

The teams developed two entirely different solutions that both have potential for functioning well in actual production. Because both of the solutions resolve the task by a wide margin, the jury had a tough time in naming the winners. What ultimately became the decisive factor was the capability to quickly implement solutions in production.