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A Six Sigma program recently completed by LAI International Inc. – a leading supplier of precision components and sub-assemblies for original equipment manufacturers – has reduced production time by 20 percent for a critical structural aerospace component.
A team of LAI employees in engineering, quality control and production formed a team to complete a comprehensive Six Sigma study that includes intensive workflow assessment, process analysis, value streaming and control planning of a manufacturing process for a precision-manufactured structural panel for a jet fighter.
"We also took every step off of our flowchart and measured the time to do each and every step of the process," John Rogers, vice president of operations, said. "The team examined key process input variables and studied methods to do each step more efficiently." An evaluation seven months after the Six Sigma project was completed revealed savings of $196,000 in the program, related to a reduction in cycle times, more efficient inspections and an overall reduction in production time by 20 percent.
Six Sigma removes variation within a process, decreasing opportunities for defects. A Six Sigma process is defined as one with 3.4 defects per million opportunities.
The aerospace sub-assembly program involves supply chain management of multi-sequenced manufacturing processes, including material acquisition, precision grinding, heat-treating, advanced waterjet machining, hot forming, alpha-case removal, five-axis trimming, drilling, counter-sinking, hardware installation, painting, finishing and inspection.
About LAI International
LAI is an approved supplier for large potential growth manufacturing programs, including projects in green power plant technology, aircraft parts and sub-assemblies, and defense components. Revenues are forecast to reach $60 million in 2008, with an employment base projected at 350 by the end of the year.
LAI continues to execute its strategy of expanding its capabilities by taking on more of its customers' supply chain. LAI's acquisition in 2007 of RTI, Scarborough, Maine, expanded its capabilities in manufacturing power generation equipment. In addition, LAI operates four other manufacturing facilities, dispersed in key manufacturing regions across North America, with locations in Minneapolis, Phoenix, Tucson and Westminster, Md.
All five of LAI's fabrication facilities are ISO 9001:2000 and AS9100 certified. The company also offers NADCAP certified non-conventional machining and welding processes. In addition, LAI has best-in-class manufacturing design teams located at each of its production facilities, enabling optimized production throughput and quality.
LAI is known for its experience in supply chain management of complex manufacturing processes and its technical expertise in advanced waterjet cutting, drilling and five-axis machining, as well as precision laser processing, including laser cutting, drilling, welding, heat-treating and five-axis machining. The company also offers high-speed CNC machining, electrical discharge machining, including wire, plunge and hole-drilling EDM processing, five-axis grinding, welding, conventional machining and certified gage calibration. Additional capabilities include sheet metal fabrication, tool design and air-flow inspection.