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30th Annual

September 29-30, 2004
Concurrent Speaker

Steve Wells
Senior Operations Engineer, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company

Lessons Learned in Fighter Aircraft Manufacturing: The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Vision

Mr. Steve Wells is the lead for Production Operations Continuous Improvement on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company facility in Fort Worth, Texas. In this position, he is responsible for insuring lean manufacturing principles are institutionalized throughout the F-35 Production Operations organization. These lean principles and tools will become the cornerstone which Lockheed Martin and the F-35 partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE, will be able to meet customer demand of an aircraft produced everyday within a five-month assembly span and a predictable unit recurring flyaway cost.

Steve has worked at Lockheed Martin for 27 years within multiple positions. He was first employed as a tube fabricator and has progressively elevated through the ranks of management from first-line supervisor to superintendent of Flight Test and Modification. After completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management through LeTourneau University in 1993, Steve moved over into the financial world of aircraft manufacturing to learn Production Operations from a global perspective. In 1998, he was the assembly lead for implementing a pilot project in lean manufacturing at the Fort Worth assembly plant. This pilot was designed to illustrate lean manufacturing principles and tools to a traditional manufacturing plant with a mature product. The F-16 had been in production for over 20 years and was ripe with opportunities for improvement. Steve has also worked with tier one and two suppliers to remove waste from their processes and move to a just-in-time, one-piece-flow environment. He has been on the Shingo Prize Board of Examiners since 1999 and is very active in the Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing process. He was the team lead when the F-16 and F-22 Programs were recognized by receiving the Prize in 2000.

Mr. Wells will explain how lessons learned from traditional fighter aircraft legacy programs and best manufacturing practices were incorporated into the production vision for the F-35. He will discuss a moving assembly line concept, tools used to insure a producible aircraft, process quality, supply chain management, facility layout development, shop floor controls, and the transition to production plan. The JSF production system will be the state-of-the-art model in high-quality affordable combat aircraft operations. Building on the capability demonstrated by legacy aircraft programs and incorporating manufacturing best practices from a variety of industries will enable unprecedented manufacturing performance. This presentation explains how implementation of these lessons learned will transform JSF aircraft production.


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