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Former Member

Spirit AeroSystems, Inc., builds fuselages and other large aerostructures for many of the world’s most successful aircraft manufacturers. Spirit’s business has expanded to include a $41 billion backlog of orders to fill, which presents a significant challenge.  In order to meet customers’ delivery requirements, Spirit needed to increase our fuselage production by 30%.

Fabricating and assembling massive fuselages generates a river of data. In fact, the amount of data the company was  pulling from SAP ECC was overloading the business warehouse system. Building and running reports had become complex and time-consuming, often taking 6-8 hours. By the time the reports delivered, another work shift would have already taken place, and the report content was already out-of-date.  As a result, supervisors often relied on manual efforts to provide charts, reports and analysis.

To accomplish the company’s manufacturing goals, Spirit needed real-time insight into the value chain and workflow. The first step was implementing SAP HANA to address the data logjam, speeding up processes and enabling reporting at a more granular level—and with greater frequency. Next Spirit launched the Fuselage Shop Floor Optimization initiative to streamline capacity analysis, assembly operations and manufacturing planning. The program also sought to pinpoint sources of process delays using SAP HANA’s in-memory database and Business Objects analytics tools to create real-time production dashboards.

The results speak for themselves. Reports that once took 6-8 hours can now be run in 30 seconds,  allowing employees to  run them 3-4 times a day for true, up-to-the-minute visibility. This allows the company to optimize manufacturing schedules and lower work-in-progress inventory.  Spirit now uses historical data to forecast for the week ahead, making adjustments to the production line to get jobs done in an optimized order to meet our schedules. Real-time analytics also help the company better allocate its workforce reducing the need for overtime by 40% in select areas.

Most importantly, the company has been able to reduce cycle times, while meeting increased customer demands. Real-time production dashboards have allowed us to realize a multi-million dollar inventory reduction while reducing flow time by several days. The company expects  to see reductions of up to 25% in production flow times and up to 30% in assembly inventory levels. Increasing throughput in the current manufacturing footprint at a time of growing demand allows Spirit to deliver at the higher rates while avoiding some additional capital investment in plant, property and equipment.

Spirit’s Vice President and Chief Information Officer Jim Cocca sees the opportunity this way: “Think about the art of the possible. Identify a problem you haven’t been able to solve—a $10 million, $50 million, or even larger problem. How can you apply HANA technology to solve it? That’s the real value to the business.”

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