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3 Manufacturing Lessons from the Boeing Crisis

The Cornerstone of Success in Manufacturing 

If you run or lead a manufacturing business, quality control issues and outsourcing dilemmas may keep you awake at night. If that's the case, you're not alone. In today's competitive landscape, trust is the cornerstone of success in manufacturing. Without it, even the most innovative products can falter.

In this video and article, we'll delve into the critical importance of trust in manufacturing and explore valuable insights drawn from Boeing's recent challenges. By understanding the pitfalls of compromising quality for short-term gains, you'll learn how to prioritise trust and quality control in your own manufacturing processes. 

In this article:

→ Why Boeing is a manufacturing business
→ The no. 1 thing it takes to be a successful manufacturing business 
How Boeing traded trust for financial gain
The most valuable part of the manufacturing process
3 lessons you can learn from Boeing's manufacturing crisis

Where Boeing Went Wrong

BM - From the Expert

“You’re probably across the challenges that Boeing have been experiencing in recent years, whether that was the tragedy of the two planes that crashed just before Covid, or whether it's the issues with the door literally being sucked out of the plane earlier this year.

What does that have to do though with finance though?

It all comes down to Boeing's business model.

Why Boeing is a manufacturing business

In essence, Boeing is a manufacturing business. And the key lessons that we can take away if we do run a manufacturing business is that we shouldn't take away from our process the things that add the most value.

The no. 1 thing it takes to be a successful manufacturing business 

What is a crucial element to be a successful manufacturing business? It’s trust.

The client or the end consumer has to trust your product for you to sell enough of it. If they don't trust that the door that you make, or the table you make, or – dare I say it, the aeroplane that you make – is not going to be safe or up to standard, there’s going to be a real issue around the ability of your business to survive.

How Boeing traded trust for financial gain

Let's look at Boeing specifically.

Clearly, trust is crucial. If anything happens at 38,000 feet, the likelihood of survival is slim to none. I don't say that with any levity or any form of humour. That is the reality of the situation.

But if you have dug a little deeper to see what's happened to their business in recent years, they've gone from a business that did everything itself, to – by its own admission – becoming one that instead brings the jigsaw puzzle together.

What they've done, without going into the inner workings of it too much, in the last 10 years they've become the business who put all the pieces together. I'm going to do this a little crassly, but they might have somebody manufacture the wing, and the other wing, and then they get the engine and the engine and the fuselage, and they bring it together like a jigsaw puzzle.

You might go, "Well, that doesn't seem too unrealistic. What's unreal about that?"

To continue with the jigsaw puzzle analogy, previously, they were the ones who made the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, and then they put the jigsaw puzzle together themselves. The key difference is that every step of the process – every bit of wiring, every nut and bolt – was done by somebody within Boeing, so they knew the quality process that happened. Now, they're getting the finished good, and they're trusting that that jigsaw piece has been done properly.

How does this tie back into our numbers and our financial performance?

The most valuable part of the manufacturing process

It's crucial for us to understand the most valuable parts of your manufacturing process –trust and quality control – and asking yourself if you afford to put that in somebody else's hands.

Going back to the Alaskan plane example where the door sucked out of the window, that was because one bolt was missing. Well, that was done by somebody else; it didn't get checked at Boeing, and suddenly a catastrophe occurred.

While none of us (that I'm aware of!) who watch these videos are making aeroplanes, it's as important to consider as if you were.

Where's the value proposition in what we are creating? And ensuring if there is anything done by others, we have quality processes in place – not just doing it for the financial savings, which is what Boeing has been doing.

So this is a bit of a counter video – the finance guy saying, "Not everything necessarily ties back to cost saving."

Because in the long run, the cost saving you have today could have repercussions down the road, that would defeat any cost savings multiple times over.

3 Takeaways from Boeing's Manufacturing Crisis

What does this mean for you if you own or run a manufacturing business? Here are the key takeaways.

Lesson #1: Understand, evaluate & monitor your processes.

  • Assess the core components of your manufacturing process.
  • Continuously monitor and improve quality assurance processes.

Lesson #2: Prioritise quality control at every step

  • Implement stringent quality control measures.
  • Invest in supplier relationships for quality assurance.
  • Regularly evaluate outsourced components for quality.

Lesson #3: Remember the bigger picture & play the long-term game.

  • Consider the long-term implications of outsourcing.
  • Build trust by ensuring consistency and reliability.

The key takeaway? Quality > cost savings. Every time.

To higher profits and stronger cash flow,




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