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									Fast and Flexible Communication of Engineering Information
                  in the Aerospace Industry

              Second Quarterly Report for MIT/Lehigh
              Period covering October - December 1994

                           Sponsored by:

                  Wright Patterson Air Force Base
                        Wright Laboratories
              Manufacturing and Technology Directorate
                 Information Technology Division

     This is the second quarterly report for the MIT Fast & Flexible pathfinder. Our research
team is analyzing product-development in the aerospace industry, focusing particularly on
improving the management of design information within and between assemblers and
suppliers. Our research focuses on developing more fast and flexible communications and

     We are six months into a twenty-eight month Air Force Wright Laboratory
Manufacturing & Technology (WL/MTI) contract. Our research has deployed faculty, staff
and site-located graduate students from MIT at Vought Aerospace. We are pursuing this
research jointly with the automotive pathfinder research, thus enabling easy testing of
concept and method migratabilty, at least between the automotive and aerospace industries.
Therefore, we are better prepared to migrate the developed methods and concepts broadly
within the manufacturing community.

      The methods being used are process mapping to identify crucial transactions between
people and companies, linking transactions to clusters of specific engineering data called
features, identifying transactions occurring early in product development that have large
downstream effects, and speeding up the processes by providing computer tools and database
access that connect people and their transactions to effects such as cost, time, assembly errors,
inadequate production capacity, and so on.

     Our results affirm the similarities between the automotive and airframe industries. In
particular, each industry exhibits complex customer-supplier networks that we call "webs." A
working hypothesis is that such a network of companies can improve its performance if
participants take pro-active steps during early product design to design and manage this web
as an integrated system. We believe that "proactive design and integration of the web" is a
concept that could be developed with useful procedures, metrics, and supporting software in a
way that is similar to design for assembly.

     The goals of this research are to:
    • Demonstrate effectiveness of Transactions Analysis
    • Understand how to procure products in a web environment
    • Develop methods, tools and metrics to analyze and solve web problems
    • Test the tools and metrics at several sites in the airframe industries and give value to
      those sites, their customers and suppliers
    • Define a generic migration strategy for the results to other industries

     Our field studies suggest that companies in both the auto and aircraft industries have
similar problems and could benefit from similar approaches. Our near-term plans are to

      Further information regarding this report can be obtained from either George Orzel, WL/MTI Project
Manager at (513) 255-7371, or Carlo Cadet, Program Manager at (617) 258-5288,
complete a baselining measurement prior to implementing specific pilots to test our emerging
concepts and methods.

      Further information regarding this report can be obtained from either George Orzel, WL/MTI Project
Manager at (513) 255-7371, or Carlo Cadet, Program Manager at (617) 258-5288,
                                       Research Team Members

Principal Investigator:

     Dr. Daniel Whitney, Center For Technology, Policy, & Industrial Development, MIT

Program Manager

     Carlo Cadet, Research Associate, Center For Technology, Policy, & Industrial Development, MIT

Faculty & Staff

     Martin Anderson, Research Associate, Center For Technology, Policy, & Industrial Development, MIT
     Prof. Charles Fine, Sloan School of Management, MIT
     Prof. David Gossard, Mechanical Engineering Department, MIT
     Prof. Anna Thornton, Mechanical Engineering Department, MIT

Research Assistants (current)

     Mary Ann Anderson, Masters Candidate, Mechanical Engineering, MIT
     Minho Chang*, Ph.D. Candidate, Mechanical Engineering Department, MIT
     Tim Cunningham, Masters Candidate, Mechanical Engineering, MIT
     J.J. Laukaitas, Masters Candidate, Sloan School of Management, MIT
     Don Lee, Ph.D. Candidate, Mechanical Engineering, MIT
     Krish Mantripragada, Ph.D. Candidate, Mechanical Engineering, MIT
     Renata Pomponi, Ph.D. Candidate, Technology Management & Policy, MIT
     Narendra Soman*, Ph.D. Candidate, Mechanical Engineering, MIT

     * Providing intellectual contribution, however they are funded elsewhere

MIT/ Lehigh Fast & Flexible Manufacturing
                                      REPORT OUTLINE

     Section        Heading
     1Project Motivation
     2              Problem Statement
     3              Research Approach
     4              Work accomplished to date
     5              Work Forecast - Pilot Description

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         3/5/10                                                                 6


     MIT Lean Production research is carried out by the International Motor Vehicle
Program and the Lean Aircraft Initiative. The research objectives are to learn, synthesize
and disseminate the tenets of Lean Production. Some observers in industry and academia
believe the best Lean practices will form the foundation for a next-generation paradigm
bearing the name Agile Manufacturing.

     The Agile Manufacturing Enterprise Forum at Lehigh University has defined agility
along four dimensions:

     •   value-based pricing strategies that enrich customers

     •   cooperation that enhances competitiveness

     •   organizational mastery of change and uncertainty

     •   investments that leverage the impact of people and information

      These are useful concepts, widely believed to be necessary for business success in the
future. Yet few of them have been evaluated or tested rigorously in a research setting.
Our fast and flexible research will contribute to understanding each of these dimensions.
Our team will seek to expand the ideas both quantitatively and qualitatively by means of
field studies, development of new analysis methods, and prototyping of new computer


     Our continued work has enabled us to refine the problem statement.

     Customer-supplier partnerships dominate the landscape of organizational forms for
product realization of complex manufactured items. Companies seek partners because the
product's complexity generally precludes any one company having all the marketing,
design, or manufacturing skills to make them. Partnerships are not new, but increasing
competition has put new pressures on them. Also, some striking apparent organizational
successes (e.g., Chrysler Corporation) that rely heavily on supplier-partners have
influenced some to believe that vertical disintegration provides a path to greater corporate
profitability. While such partnership networks offer significant advantages, they are quite
complex and need to become more "agile." Improvement opportunities exist in terms of
managing time, cost, risk, and quality. Our industrial partners are keenly aware of these

     We have found that customer-supplier relationships are surprisingly complex:
suppliers of main assemblies have suppliers for subassemblies who have suppliers for
parts, and all of these have suppliers for fabrication machines, plus suppliers of tools and

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           3/5/10                                                                                                                    7

fixtures to help make and assemble the parts, subassemblies and final assemblies. We
have given the name "web" to this set of companies and their relationships. A generic
map of a web devoted to designing and delivering complex mechanical assemblies is
shown in Figure 1, while a specific one describing some automotive parts is shown in
Figure 2. We are in the process of investigating the degree to which companies in the auto
and aircraft industries are aware of their webs' complexities and determining the
importance they give to documenting and controlling them. 1

                       DIGITAL DEFINITION IS NOT              CUSTOMER
                       UNIFORMLY AVAILABLE ON
                       THE W EB
                                                              ASSEMBLER/           IT STARTS OUT FROM ONE POINT

                                               ASSEMBLY             ASSEMBLY
                                               SUPPLIER             SUPPLIER

                                                                                                                      3 - 10 YEARS
                                                                     PARTS            PARTS       IT GETS DISPERSED
                                   PARTS            PARTS
                                  SUPPLIER         SUPPLIER         SUPPLIER         SUPPLIER     OVER THE WEB

                                   TOOLING           TOOLING            TOOLING
                                   SUPPLIER          SUPPLIER           SUPPLIER

                                                                               IT IS ALL SUPPOSED TO
                                                                               COME BACK TOGETHER A  T
                                                                               ONE POINT
                                           HUNDREDS OR THOUSANDS OF MILES

                                                IT COSTS A LOT
                                            IT TAKES A LONG TIME
                                          INFORMATION GETS LOST
                                      IT RELIES ON INFLEXIBLE TOOLS
                                  IT HAS LIMITED FIRST TIME CAPABILITY

    Figure 1. Schematic of the Web Environment for the Case of Complex Mechanical Assemblies.
An assembly is designed or partially designed at the top to meet a set of customer requirements
expressed as fitup specifications. The design is dispersed geographically and over time, during
which new design activities occur, members are added to the chain, and information is lost. Only at
the end can the original designer determine if the parts fit, that is, if the original customer
requirement has been met. (Developed by D. Whitney from discussions with team members.)

1We were introduced to the idea of web mapping by Dr. I. S. Fan and Dr. G. Williams of Cranfield University, UK, who
in June, 1994 showed us their research on documenting the "extended development chain" for the A340 wing by British
Aerospace and dozens of suppliers. Cranfield's term corresponding to "web" is "Extended Enterprise." [Cooper, et al]

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          3/5/10                                                                                               8

                                                                      (Closure Panel Blue Buck: Vendor A)

                                                              Hayrack for Hood (Vendor B)
                                                    $, t, Q

                           (Ford-Chicago)                           $, t, Q   Hayrack for Fender (Vendor B)

                                                                                                Structural Blue Buck
                                                                                                     (Vendor A)
            Checking fixture: Vendor G)

                                     $, t, Q   Assembly Tooling (Vendor D)         $, t, Q   D-pillar station 8 (Vendor C)

                                      (Vendors E and F)
                   Fender Skin
                (Budd-Shelbyville)                        Radiator Support
                                                            (Vendor H)
                                                                          Inner Fenders                     Cowl Top
                                                                       (Budd-Philadelphia)   Body Frame     (Vendor I)
                                                                                             (Ford LAP)
                                                                                                   N. Soman, M. Chang
     Figure 2. The Supply Web for the Ford Explorer Front End. This map shows the parts,
fixtures, and their respective vendors and indicates that even for a small number of parts and fixtures
there can be a large number of vendors. The bubbles with "$, t, Q" inside indicate major points
where money and time are spent to obtain quality. Developed by Mssrs Narendra Soman and
Minho Chang.


      Our hypothesis is that to be agile requires that companies be able to manage this web,
not merely survive in it. In particular, we feel that the best way to manage product
realization in the web environment is to modify the product realization process so that the
existence of the web is taken into account early and is paid careful attention as realization
proceeds. We call these steps "pro-active web design" and "pro-active web management."
Our project aims to provide tools and methods for pro-actively including web management
in product/process design. The tools we have developed or are using are transactions
analysis, activity/cost chains, organization maps, key characteristics, and contact chains.
These are described briefly below and in detail in other papers at this conference.

     As originally proposed, the project aimed to combine two existing techniques and
determine if together they could reveal important process improvement opportunities and
provide a structured way to implement those improvements. The two techniques are

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         3/5/10                                                                    9

transactions analysis and feature-based design. Transactions analysis is an interview-based
technique that reveals how organizations operate by identifying in great detail the entire
set of transactions that make up the work of an organization. Interviews are conducted
with the people who actually carry out the work. Feature based design is a technique that
is the subject of current research. Its objective is to improve conventional geometric
design data, such as computer-aided design models, by attaching design intent in the form
of constraints, relationships to other features, and non-geometric information such as cost,
preferred machine or supplier, importance, and so on. Our field work, described below,
revealed that our partners already are using a similar concept called Key Characteristics
(KCs). For this reason, we now utilize the terminology KC but the intent is the same.

     The research approach comprises four main steps:

    1. Field studies to document actual transaction maps of important design or
       manufacturing processes in order to establish an as-is baseline in terms of activities,
       time, cost, and problems.

    2. Extraction of generic problems common to both industries from these field studies,
       and expression of these problems in terms of KCs and other representations that are
       described below.

    3. Definition of improved processes or methods that could be applied at the field sites,
       and demonstration of these methods in the form of pilot projects.

    4. Definition of computer tools that could improve the efficiency of transactions, the
       definition of KCs, or the design and management of the web, and demonstration of
       prototype software implementing these tools.

       Integral to these steps is the development of a set of metrics, in terms of cost, time,
first time capability, or other suitable bases of comparison, so that the effect of the pilot
projects and computer tools can be estimated.


     Among the research’s main goals is to demonstrate the effectiveness of transactions
analysis coupled with the use of features. This technique has proved very successful. We
have formalized this process mapping method in the form of multiple views. These views
support capturing information in ways that support pro-active transactions. The
following list of tools identify clusters of transactions, methods of visualizing and
managing the web, systematic ways of defining information that is passed out onto the
web, and methods of maintaining control over the coherence of that information until the
dispersed processes and their outputs converge again as the product is made and

     A. Tools Being Used or Developed

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            3/5/10                                                               10

     The tools we have developed or are using are transactions analysis, activity/cost
chains, organization maps, key characteristics, and contact chains. Some of these are new
while others are extensions of existing research techniques or adaptations of methods being
used in industry already. Along with many of these tools we are developing pictorial
ways of capturing the information. We call these "maps." Each map shows one view of
the physical, organizational, informational, or engineering information being shared by
web participants. These maps, described below, are proving useful in understanding the
web environment. No single map seems able to show the whole situation.

      Transactions analyses are interview-based studies of how organizations operate. 2
Performing transactions analyses at our three partner sites led us to recognize the inherent
complexities of engineering partnerships and showed us the need to develop tools to make
the complexities visible and deal with them. Transactions analyses reveal where intensive
transactions activity occurs and also permit one to see how activities at one point in the
process are linked to activities elsewhere. Actual transactions do not correspond to official
organization charts or approved information transfers, and the degree to which they differ
is a good indication of how the participants must skew the official process in order to make

      Activity/cost chains are an extension of activity-based costing. 3 They are the result
of using direct cost measurement techniques during the transactions analyses. In many
cases, transactions can be associated with costs, so that cascades of transactions can be
linked in order to sum up their component costs. Activity/cost analyses show how much
it costs to do some basic activity such as to make a design change, adjust a fixture, or
tighten a tolerance. Knowing these costs can help justify improvements in design and
business processes. However, most companies do not know their actual costs to the
required accuracy and usually compile costs in functionally defined cost centers rather than
associating them with processes, especially when those processes cross functional
boundaries and enter the web.

      Organization maps show explicitly who does what in the web of suppliers. 4 5 These
maps turn out to be quite complicated, since assemblies and related tooling seem to be
divided up into very small elements and each element is contracted out to a different
supplier (at least in the car industry). If companies were to make these maps during early
product design, they would be able to plan out who should be in the partnerships and
begin thinking about who should do what. Supplier selection criteria could be formulated
based on where suppliers lie in the map and what their part is in delivering the final
customer requirement. However, it appears that the web grows over time without top
level awareness or management.

2Mr Martin Anderson directs the Transactions Analysis research on the project.
3Prof. Manash Ray directs the activity/cost chain research on the project.
4The work of [Cooper et al] is presented as an organization map.
5Prof. Charles Fine directs the web -related research on the project.

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            3/5/10                                                           11

      Key Characteristics (KCs) are currently in use at each of our three partner companies
and at many others. 6 KCs are aspects of the product that require close attention. They
are intended to capture customer requirements and express them systematically as design
and production metrics. Hundreds of specifications, dimensions, and tolerances typically
appear on drawings. The assignment of a KC to a dimension or surface finish, for
example, indicates that this particular aspect is the important one to deliver. Different
companies have utilized this idea in different ways. GM distinguishes key product
characteristics (KPCs), that the customer is aware of, and key control characteristics
(KCCs), that the manufacturer must control in order to deliver the KPCs.

     Contact chains link the key characteristics of assemblies of parts and fixtures to each
other so as to describe how fitup is supposed to be achieved. 7 KCs, for example, highlight
visible fits like those around car doors, since fitup dimensions and tolerances are
documented by the chains and fitup is a KC for customer satisfaction. A metric we have
proposed is to count how many company or organizational boundaries are crossed by a
single contact chain. Our assumption is that smaller is better. If companies define these
contact chains early in design, they can assign responsibility explicitly to the different
suppliers for their roles in supporting the chains. However, it appears that while
individual engineers commonly calculate these chains for local assembly fitup analyses, the
contact chain concept has not been utilized as a way of unifying the work of several
cooperating companies. No current computer aided design (CAD) tools include contact
chain representation capability, although the potential to add this capability exists. CAD
is commonly used to define parts, less often for assemblies, and hardly at all for assembly

      Agility Metrics are intended to help companies determine if they are operating in an
agile way.8 [Goldman, Nagel and Preiss] present a list of 100 questions that provide
general guidance in this area but a more precise set of metrics is needed. Tools and
methods will be developed that relate directly to the web activities we find among our
industry partners. These will be aimed at returning quantitative results from measures
that are easy to understand and easy to calculate.

      In addition to the tools mentioned above significant work has performed in creating a
cost baseline of GM Saginaw’s product development life cycle. This work serves as a
broad backdrop to the focused cost baselining work to occur at Ford/Budd and Vought.

      B. Program Management Review

     On December 15, 1994 we conducted a Progress review meeting with our WL/MTI
sponsors and our corporate sponsors. The review was successful in sharing progress to
date and discussing the project’s specific goals (listed in the executive summary). The

6Prof. Anna Thornton directs the KC research on the project.
7Prof. David Gossard directs the contact chain research on the project.
8Prof. Mikell Groover directs the agility metrics research on the project.

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         3/5/10                                                              12

session underscored the importance of developing the business case for our results and the
transition plan to enact the recommendations.

    The next six months will be devoted to preparing the in-plant pilot. Our research has
focused our attention on the corrective action process employed by Vought. This pilot
will compare corrective action methods at Vought and Ford/Budd as the basis for
identifying missing design information that causes some kinds of corrective action;
recommendations will be made concerning use of contact chains and KCs to capture the
missing information, more effective corrective action procedures, and metrics for
determining if corrective action has been improved.



      1. Missing information in the original design is a major cause of Corrective Action
(CA) which is made worse by the web environment; in particular, in the case of assemblies,
the missing information is relational, having to do with defining interfaces between parts,
rather than having to do with definition of parts themselves; the hypothesized response is
that having a structured way to capture relational information (in the form of KCs and
contact chains) can reduce this information problem, reducing ambiguity, making
relationships clear between parts and web members, and giving the information a
permanent home during web transfers.

     2. Lack of a model of the CA decision process and its associated costs keeps
management from seeing the importance of improving the process at its source, namely in
the original design; the hypothesized response is to make detailed activity chain models of
CA processes, identify the places where time and cost are incurred, identify the reasons,
and seek to prioritize causes and impacts.

     3. Lack of categorization of CA causes and costs and lack of feedback of this
information to the design process guarantees that CA will continue to be a problem; the
hypothesized response is to make a business case for improving original design data using
CA as the source of savings.

     Migration Opportunities

     The migration opportunities lie in sharing best practices and understanding
fundamental differences between the two industries. In both cases, large complex metal
and metal/composite assemblies are found to assemble with unacceptable fitup errors.
Both industries have procedures that include teamwork, a diagnostic process, record
keeping, follow-up, measuring instruments, and so on. In both cases there is difficulty
finding supporting information to aid the process.

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         3/5/10                                                                13

     To the extent that missing design information is found to be a cause, the methods for
remedying this should be similar in both industries. These methods will include ways of
defining KCs or contact chains or other necessary information to meet the gaps discovered
during our studies. It should not be necessary to have a digital definition of the parts in
order to achieve at least some benefit from this additional information structuring. To the
extent that the cause is lack of engineering understanding that is special to one industry
(such as composite parts in aircraft), the results will not be migratable.


      This is a high leverage opportunity for both industries. In the car industry the CA
that occurs during product launch is becoming an ever larger fraction of total car
development time and has been targeted for reductions of as much as 50%. Keeping a
new car off the market because of quality problems like fitup can cost millions of dollars
per day. In the aircraft industry, there are only a few planes made per year. Any
interruption in the flow of production holds up other planes, each of which costs $100
million. If CA is part of the normal process, then every plane is delayed at huge cost.

     Measurement Plan

      The measurement plan is still under development. At present the approach
anticipated is to follow the pattern set at Saginaw last summer, namely to use the Design
Structure Matrix (DSM) or flow chart to isolate individual process steps and try to associate
times and workload to each. This will be done by interviews or actual data. Missing data
will be noted. The DSM will be used to try to relate chains of activities so that cost or time
totals can be estimated for related sets of activities and reallocated to meaningful categories
such as parent organization of the people involved, type of activity they are engaged in,

     Required Data

     The required data include the following:

     • statistics on what CA events occurred and what the immediate diagnosis was

     • statistics on the final diagnosis and disposition

     • the time it took between initial discovery and initial diagnosis, and between initial
diagnosis and final disposition

    • the number of people involved at different stages in the process, what they do, and
how long it takes

     • what records are kept now

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         3/5/10                                                              14

     • what missing design information could have been the cause of each problem, where
it might have been omitted or lost, how or if its loss was communicated to the designers,
and where it could have been inserted in an ideal process

     • what missing engineering knowledge could have been the cause of each problem,
how the gap was bridged, and how or if the cause was communicated back to the designers
or parts, tooling, or processes

    • because we are dealing with CA in a web environment, it is important to observe
how the participating organizations deal with each other

     Visits to design offices will be needed in order to learn

     • what information is currently in design data packages at the time suppliers are
chosen, and what is in the packages when they are released to the suppliers

    • what is the schedule for information release, how often do design changes occur,
what is their effect, and so on

    • how are suppliers monitored by the top level customer prior to trying the
assemblies for the first time

    • what tradeoffs are offered or available regarding time, cost, or tolerances while the
suppliers are working

     Required Tools and Analyses

     The DSM will be the main way that transactions and information flows are captured.
The DSM will also be the home for cost and time data. Computer tools are under
development that can record DSMs and some underlying data. These are in the form of
spreadsheets, so the required arithmetic can be done easily. Statistical analysis tools will
also be needed to help categorize the kinds of CA diagnoses and their degree of accuracy.
A system dynamics model might be feasible for showing how an organization reacts to CA

     Draft Schedule

MIT/ Lehigh Fast & Flexible Manufacturing
                                                                                                            Qtr 4, 1994  Qtr 1, 1995 Qtr 2, 1995 Qtr 3, 1995  Qtr 4, 1995  Qtr 1, 1996 Qtr 2, 1996
                                                                                                            OCT NOV DE C JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEPT OCT NOV DE C JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN
                                            Develop pilot plan

                                             Describe pilot to Ford, Budd, and Vought
                                             Develop detailed plan and objectives
                                             Obtain concurrence from Vought, Ford, and Budd
                                             Locate sources of in-house knowledge
                                            Develop CA metrics set
                                            Describe V ought CA process using metrics
                                             Develop DSM of CA processes (done)
                                             Obtain cost/time data
                                             Obtain process capability data
                                             Obtain description of design data packages
                                            Describe Ford/Budd CA process using metrics
                                             Develop DSM of CA processes (done)
                                             Obtain cost/time data
                                             Obtain process capability data

MIT/ Lehigh Fast & Flexible Manufacturing
                                             Obtain description of design data packages
                                            Compare Vought and Ford/Budd CA methods
                                             Identify best features of each CA method
                                             Recommend improvement targets
                                             Prepare benchmarking report
                                            Develop cost and organizational models
                                            Develop improved CA method
                                             KC' s, contact chains, scenarios
                                            Develop new design data package requirements
                                             plan with Vought and Boeing
                                            Execute case study
                                             select case study targets
                                             define design data, KC's, diagnostics, tools, as appropriate
                                            Develop business case for improved methods
                                              cost, time, first time success, service to customer
                                             Develop migration plan from as-is to to-be methods
                                              internal (Vought), external (Boeing)
                                            (Optional) develop or obtain computer support tools
                                              KC tracer to supplier mockup
                                              Contact chain tracer to part, fixture, supplier mockup

                                              CAD tool for defining KC's and contact chains in layouts
                                            Write final pilot report
                                             benchmarking, improvement possibilities
                                             case study, migration plan, business case
         3/5/10                             16

MIT/ Lehigh Fast & Flexible Manufacturing

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