I saw a news story yesterday on the Mukilteo dock that Washington State is building which was part of their package to lure 787 Final Assembly to Washington State (which ultimately failed, as per Boeing, I saved the arses of those who had an interest in 787 Final Assembly being in Washington State). It was a sad story, indeed. I also read a print article on the subject that was similarly wrong.
If you want to know why Boeing wanted the Mukilteo dock so badly that they put it on the list of things they would like that might site the "snapping together" of the "built anywhere but Washington" outsourced sections of the 787 in Washington State, you only have to look at previous reporting on the issue.
I don't believe the Dock was ever seriously considered for 787 section delivery as the latest little researched reporting states. I think Boeing always intended on using LCFs to transport the sections. Why? The 787 production model is based upon the Airbus production model, and Airbus transports sections by their own special freighters, except for the A380 sections, which the new larger Boeing LCFs aren't even big enough to transport.
At one time, Boeing considered outsourcing 767 barrel section assembly to those suppliers who currently just build panels of those barrel sections and ship them to Everett. It was for that outsourcing of work and similar outsourcing of the same barrel assembly work on the 777 program that I believe Boeing wanted the Mukilteo dock for--not for 787 logistics.
And it's there where the "Boeing is the most arrogant company on the face of the planet" apt description given to me by a Boeing manager as noted on my site comes in--Boeing was trying (and succeeded) to get Washington State to pay for facilities to outsource work on current production programs so that Boeing would insource 787 Final Assembly. If Boeing had gone ahead with that outsourcing, I think you would have a net loss of jobs at Boeing because the jobs eliminated in barrel assembly on that 767 and 777 programs would exceed the measly number of jobs the "snapping together" of the final assembly of the 787 would provide. If Boeing had also outsourced Systems Installation work to suppliers in addition to the barrel assembly on the 767 and 777 programs, the loss of jobs would be catastrophic, just as the loss of jobs on the 787 program has been for Boeing workers here due to the anti-union business model of the 787.
But, that would make sense. Boeing would then be building all three programs under the same minimal IAM and SPEEA union job "snap together" outsourced components model now used on the 787. It makes sense from a Boeing Management "pro stock options, damn the little Boeing worker" point of view.
But it didn't happen as Boeing envisioned it. Washington Senator Patty Murray and Representative Norm Dicks put a stopper on the 767 barrel section outsourcing plans by telling Boeing they would withhold their crucial support for a 767 Tanker program if Boeing outsourced all of that work. I don't know what stopped the plans to outsource 777 barrel section assembly and "stuffing--that was not widely reported.
Anyway, those decisions by Boeing to postpone such outsourcing on the 767 and 777 programs make the Mukilteo port moot, and is probably why Boeing doesn't seem to care if it gets done on schedule.
So this is the little known background on the purpose of the Mukilteo dock. Boeing will use it, I've read, to streamline the delivery of a little, currently outsourced component, from a ship to the Everett plant, but that doesn't take away from Boeing's true reason for wanting the dock as reported elsewhere--it (as the 787 Program was) was to be a catalyst to "drive a stake through the heart" of unions at Boeing by outsourcing their work in the name of Lean Manufacturing.
I don't think 787 barrel assembly will ever be outsourced because such a move would kill political support fir the KC-X program in this state.
But the 777 is another story. There are many years left on that program, and Boeing could revive plans to outsource barrel assembly and systems installation and all of the ancillary jobs such as Engineering, stores personnel, etc., at any time. I don't know Boeing's plans on this. You could ask them, but the won't tell you the real answer.
So, if you are a union person and think you have it made because you are on the 777 or 787 program which look prosperous enough to support your job until retirement, I wouldn't be so confident of your job security. Boeing could revive plans to outsource 777 work at any time, and if they do so, don't expect five year's notice. They will likely wait until the last minute (when changes in the production system that make such outsourcing obvious occur) to announce their plans so as to make the bad morale period (yes, I'm intimately aware it is bad, but it can get much worse) as short as possible.
It's strange how you begin to think like a typical anti-Boeing worker Boeing manager when you have spent years studying these manager's corruption like I have. It's unpleasant because these are as selfish and greedy as any people that have ever existed in human history in some cases, in my opinion. Learning of these managers' heartlessness and seemingly infinite greed is not as bad as trying to come to grips with the fact that these kind of people exist.
Anyway, 787 workers should also not be confident of their job security. It is my humble opinion that before or during a protracted strike, Boeing may threaten to fly 787 production out of state "overnight" in their shiny new LCFs if workers don't capitulate to Boeing's demands in order to keep their jobs. They may do similar things with 777 outsourcing as well, using it as a bargaining chip in negotiations, whether or not they actually intend on going through with it, if crossed by workers wanting decent benefits maintained in the face of ever growing Boeing profits.
I believe my take on the Mukilteo dock's true purpose (whether or not it ever comes to pass) is more accurate than the lousy reporting I saw yesterday that only mentioned pre-LCF 787 section delivery in relation to the dock. This lousy reporting is what commonly passes for reporting in today's media--just listen to what Boeing PR says and assume it is true and report it verbatim. It's certainly easier than doing your reporting the way real reporters taught you to do so in college--by getting independent confirmation of facts, looking up prior reporting by reporters on the subject that do their jobs by the book, and digging deep for sources besides Boeing PR that may know the true facts, and not what Boeing PR releases and/or spins. Until this lazy reporting is stopped, government and corporations who lie or withhold the truth will be given a free ride in almost all cases, and you will see more reporting of Paris Hilton than you will see of the rampant corruption in government agencies and corporations that is going on today that only for the most part is reported (if at all) in ways like this.
As a side note, Boeing's copying of Airbus's production system is not a good copy, by far. Boeing's system is much leaner and meaner. Airbus's sections are flown in from Airbus plants that assemble and stuff them, which are all located in Eurpoe, and the subtier supplier work is also largely kept in those countries, even on new programs, such as the A380 Program. Airbus managers do appear to have consciences, and do care about their countries and workers, and not just their own pocketbooks.
However, Boeing does not keep this barrel production and stuffing in house like Airbus does--they outsource it all to other companies--most of them foreign. Boeing managers don't care about their country and workers like Airbus does--they only seem to care about the person they (wrongly, considering what they've done) look at in the mirror every morning.
That brings another subject up. It is about my thoughts on the other kinds of these people at Boeing--no, not Boeing Management, but the numerous people at Boeing who only draw their paychecks because they spend all their time trying to outsource former Boeing work to the lowest non-union bidder. It is these people I also wonder about how they are able to look themselves in the mirror. Why did they even get into that line of work? The excessive pay? Because they like power, and eliminating their fellow Americans' jobs is the ultimate way they get their feelings of power, albeit arguably evil "power?" How do these people go to church on Sunday and look the families in the eye they try every day to put out on the streets by outsourcing their jobs? I don't get how these kind of people have any sort of respect for themselves.
However, I believe they for the most part are happy to do their company's bidding and outsource their neighbors' jobs and their country's future. They have no conscience. That's why they do that kind of work. There is one positive, however. Once these miscreants have outsourced all workers' jobs and all of America's future they possibly can, their similarly heartless and overly bottom line driven manager will gleefully kick them out on the streets. A fitting end for a person with such a heartless job. Analogy wise, these people are like Jews at a WWII German "concentration camp" who save themselves and make themselves fat and happy by gaining favor with their German captors by doing the job of throwing similarly imprisoned innocent women, children, and men's bodies into the ovens for disposal as part of Germany's "ultimate solution" to their hatred of the Jewish people. To make the analogy perfect, when this cowardly Jew who made his "living" by disposing of people like him in the ovens threw the last of the Jews' bodies in the oven, the S.S. guard overseeing the operation would just grab him and throw him, screaming at the top of his lungs, into the oven alive, and close the door, having thereby completed his mission.
This is a fitting analogy for another reason, for if you are a religious person, one might think people that made their high living by taking away people's livelihoods would end up in a similar fate, burning in Hell for eternity.
I guess you can tell I believe in unions and have some common views with Lou Dobbs.
Another anecdote that may fit this blog: One day on a break from my week long class on Lean Manufacturing, the V.P. of the Propulsion Systems Division of Boeing was looking out the windows over the PSD factory when the subject of Airbus's employment levels and Boeing's came up in the casual conversation. The V.P. said that Airbus employed about 30,000 people, and that one day Boeing would be like Airbus in that regard. He said that they wouldn't lay off people to get to that level of employment, but that as people retired they would not be replaced. It was kind of interesting unofficial info, but the only way they could get down to that level of employment would be to outsource barrel assembly and stuffing as noted above. I doubt Lean itself could do it.
Another "funny" thing from the same class was when all the QA people in the class were working at a table trying to "Lean out" the engine receival process by using a large piece of paper tacked to the wall to record the current and proposed flow of the process. My QA supervisor and one of our QA planners were part of our small group. During the exercise, Both my manager and the QA planner proposed letting shop people "verify" the engine for correct configuration upon receipt, eliminating QA from the process. Ensuring the engine was the correct configuration before mechanics started installing things on it had always been an inspection by QA. I was astonished they made such a proposal, as I think it showed ignorance of the process. One of QA's primary duties was to ensure that every part of the airplane was built to the correct configuration. This change would eliminate that essential inspection on the engines, which were major and essential parts of the airplane. In addition, if shop made an error and built up the wrong engine configuration for the particular airplane they were building up the engines for, it would incur a major expense for the company, as all of the parts would have to be removed and put on the correct configuration engine, or the engine would have to be rebuilt by the vendor to the correct configuration at Boeing expense because it was our error.
I politely disagreed with their idea for the noted reasons, and surprisingly another line inspector like me who was at the table and was once one of the few inspectors like me that liked to do their jobs instead of rollerstamp sided with their idea of deleting the configuration inspection. We discussed it several times during the excercise, in which we had a facilitator who knew Lean who guided us, but I steadfastly stuck to my opinion it was an essential inspection, even though I knew that the rampant rollerstamping going on by inspectors had let engines of the wrong configuration deliver to our customers. I didn't think that inspector rollerstamping was an acceptable reason to eliminate the essential inspection. At some point during the discussion, my QA supervisor said to me, "don't you think that shop can build a conforming airplane without inspectors?" It was an inane question, especially from a QA supervisor who should have known why his department existed in the first place, and why inspections of mostly hand built aircraft were essential for safety, not to mention that such inspection was required by our quality system that the FAA was supposed to ensure we worked to, but didn't. I replied to his question by telling of a statistical illustration I had heard once (from where I don't remember) that I thought at the time was a good analogy of why inspections were necessary, albeit a bit over the top to make a point. I told them that I had heard once that, "given a billion years, a group of monkeys could at random be expected to assemble an object as complex as an airplane by pure chance alone." Of course I think I misquoted it a bit from the above in the spur of the moment, but I think my point got across, even if some jaws dropped to the floor and it angered a few people at the table. I believe some statisticians had proved such a point at one time, and/or it was an axiom for their profession. It was simply a point I made where I wasn't saying that mechanics who built our airplanes were monkeys, but that they did make mistakes too, albeit not the billion years of mistakes noted before they got it right as in the monkey scenario.
Elimination of that natural human error that exists in every human because we have not evolved from those monkeys yet enough so we are perfect and never err is why quality assurance of critical to safety products like airplanes is required by laws and regulations.
Anyway, the QA planner particularly seemed to take offense to the remark and he continued to push for elimination of the configuration inspections on the engines. After that day's class, the QA planner managed to "buttonhole" me in the hallway. He was livid. He said he resented me questioning his judgment that he had compiled from his 30 or so years at Boeing. I told him I wasn't questioning his judgment by my remarks, but was just voicing my opinion and giving my views on the matter. Needless to say, he remained peeved I didn't roll over to his self-described perfect judgment.
This incident I think shows yet again the hostility even QA professionals have against QA, even if they should know the importance of their jobs and not let Lean get rid of QA processes they should know are essential. However, as I've noted before many times, Cost and Schedule goals trump Safety at Boeing.
Anyway, I just wanted to get my two cents in on the Mukilteo dock story.
Today's Daily Report Quote:
This quote is also from my addendum (supplement) to my first report.
Please check into the lack of close tolerance hole inspections at PSD. I’ve heard our QA department used to have, before my arrival at PSD, a huge stockpile of inspection equipment with which to check holes and other dimensions, and then someone revised our QOI (I.D. number) on close tolerance holes to state that the definition of a close tolerance hole that required inspection was a hole ((X") and less diameter, which is most of the holes we deal with) with a tolerance range of (.XXX") or less. That made pretty much all of the holes at PSD "non-close tolerance holes," even though holes with a tolerance range of (.YYY") or less are considered close tolerance holes, I believe, at the Everett and Renton Prime Division sites, so the equipment was not needed any more. I suspect this was done "to facilitate the delivery schedule," and not done because our mechanics, who rarely drill holes, can drill holes any better than those mechanics that drill them all day long at the Prime Divisions. I suppose there are jobs at PSD where the mechanic has to drill what would be considered a close tolerance hole at the Prime Divisions, but which is "self-inspected" at PSD, but I’m not aware of any, as there are no inspections (that would be required at the Prime Divisions, but are not required at PSD due to our QOI) to call my attention to them. Knowing PSD’s M.E. (Manufacturing Engineering) department, the whole operation that should be there to drill the C/T (Close Tolerance) holes could be missing, for all I know. We, as line inspectors, are generally under too much time pressure from the Manufacturing shop and our own management to really read the jobs we are buying at all. That was one of the reasons why I used to read the jobs between inspections when I was assigned to 747 struts, even though I could (and probably did, with my banishment from the shop) technically get in trouble for "inspecting a job that was not put up for inspection yet" by doing that.
Anyway, please investigate this, and make PSD change our QOI to be compatible with the Prime Division’s QOIs on definition of C/T holes, as our mechanics are no better at drilling holes than those mechanics at the Prime Divisions, and are probably actually much worse, as a few of the freeze plug tags we have had, when figure eight holes were drilled during some of the limited drilling that was done at PSD, attests. Please check out the revision to the (I.D. number) C/T hole QOI (Exhibit Z attached) I did during my forced time in the office, but did not finish and turn in (as if that would have mattered).