Boeing SC launches innovation cell, specialized teams to increase performance

The Boeing plant in North Charleston has launched a variety of ways to increase performance and foster a better work environment, according to Daniel Mooney, the Vice President of Engineering at the facility.

One of the methods is an innovation cell, which helps support the factory.

It's placed right on the production floor so mechanics who experience production issues can stop by at any time throughout the day to talk with engineers about solutions.

"We've seen tremendous amount of innovation and process improvement come out of these innovation cells," Mooney said.

Mooney also said at any given time there are two-three EDGE teams on the floor.

These new teams are a way of increasing innovation and collaboration.

"It's one thing to observe," he said. "It's another to actually do. We said let's put together a team of engineers, give them the prerequisite training, and put them out there on the shop floor. What we found was that they came away with a completely different perspective on how the work they did as engineers affected production."

Each team is made up of either engineers who go out on the production floor to work alongside the mechanics or mechanics who go into the labs to work with the engineers.

"It changes the way the team members who participate think about the work they've done," he said. "In some cases they say it's changed their life and how they feel about their jobs."

One of the teams' success stories is a quad-bot cell that uses four robots to build fuselage sections.

"Typically we would have the engineers design that and it would be up to the people on the floor to implement it," Mooney explained. "What we did with the EDGE teams was put the folks who developed that technology and made them part of that production team so they were responsible for getting their system up and running and working."

The EDGE teams and innovation cells have set a record number of invention disclosures, which are the precursors to patents, and patents.

Mooney said it is a true testament that working together can improve performance.

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