The Application of a Lean Philosophy During Manufacturing of Advanced Airframe Structures in a New Product Introduction (NPI) Environment

Darren John J Winter, Christopher D C Jones, Carwyn Ward, Paul M Gibbons, Chris A McMahon, Kevin D Potter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


The manufacture of primary structural wing components from high-performance composite materials is a relatively new technique. GKN Aerospace faces the challenge of manufacturing complex large-scale aero-structures by the 'Automated Fibre Placement' (AFP) process whilst transitioning from the 'new product introduction environment' to meet contractual production rates. This paper reports on the adoption of the Lean philosophy within a 'value stream' by capturing staff perceptions to gain an understanding of the success levels and areas of concern. the research is of particular importance since the 'barriers of resistance' in manufacturing environments can be high if Lean is not introduced in a fashion production staff can relate to. Therefore, the research conducted offers GKN the opportunity to focus on the specific areas to realise continuous improvement through the adoption of Lean. The research investigation consisted of a questionnaire employed to gauge staff perceptions from the end of operations at Year 1. At the end of Year 2, the questionnaire was repeated to broaden the cross-sectional study over a longitudinal time horizon. The results were subject to statistical significance testing which showed the differences in staff perceptions were evident. These differences were attributed to the overall level of Lean understanding and appreciation within the facility. The novelty of this research is manifested in how well Lean practice has been adopted in a large-scale aerospace manufacturing facility transitioning from the NPI environment to serial production. Other Lean practitioners and academics will be able to apply the approach in their work, especially those looking to incorporate a Lean philosophy in a NPI environment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Sustainable and Competitive Manufacturing Systems
Subtitle of host publication23rd International Conference on Flexible Automation & Intelligent Manufacturing
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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