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“You have the capability of a robot and the capability of a human being melded together,” Christopher Reid, a Boeing associate technical fellow who previously designed NASA spacesuits, told Reuters during a factory tour. The new technology is an example a broader shift in the industry’s focus towards production, as planemakers face the task of making good on a record order boom. After a decade in which Boeing and Airbus generated massive orders fueled by the rise of China and emerging markets, the main battleground is shifting towards production strategy rather than market share vintage cufflinks.
At twin Dreamliner factories in South Carolina and Washington state, Boeing also plans to soon deploy Bluetooth-enabled ‘smart’ wrenches that signal if machinists apply the correct torque to a nut, and has introduced new self-driving work platforms to shave time off aircraft assembly, according to people familiar with the technologies vintage cufflinks. Such technology investments will help the U.S. manufacturer accelerate 787 Dreamliner production to 14 a month from 12. Chief Executive officer Dennis Muilenburg announced the preliminary rate change on Wednesday, and said he expects to complete the production increase in the second quarter..
Building the carbon composite Dreamliner at the new rate, first reported by Reuters, is central to Boeing’s efforts to raise profit margins and claw back deferred production costs as it competes with arch-rival Airbus SE in a crowded but lucrative widebody market vintage cufflinks. Boeing rolls out a new 787 with a minimum list price of $239 million every 1.75 days. At ‘rate 14,’ that new pace drops to 1.5 days to make a new Dreamliner. At today’s rate, Boeing is reducing the 787 $23 billion in deferred production costs by $16 million per aircraft, Canaccord Genuity analyst Ken Herbert said. “That number will clearly improve at the new rate.”..
Boeing estimates the exoskeletons, which cost about $4,500-$7,000 apiece, have sped up work tasks in test groups of mechanics in South Carolina, though Boeing declined to share data. If trials continue to show improved safety and productivity, Boeing says it wants to deploy them to thousands of workers across the company over the next two years vintage cufflinks. In recent weeks, Boeing has also introduced custom-built, self-driving work platforms similar to scaffolds that hug an airframe so mechanics can work as a jetliner pulses along the assembly line. Before, work stations had to be moved with fork lifts..
Boeing’s 787 mostly competes against the A350, of which Airbus builds 10 a month vintage cufflinks. These widebody planes represent hundreds of billions of dollars in sales over 20 years. Both are modernizing their factories. But on widebody jets, Boeing’s higher production rate gives it the advantage to drive down costs across its supply chain and sell more of its pricier Dreamliner variants, like the newest 787-10. In the fourth quarter, Boeing said its operating margin on commercial aircraft increased to 15.6 percent from 11.6 percent from a year ago, partially driven by higher margins on the 787 Dreamliner widebody..