Technology Today spoke with Operations Council members about today’s evolution in manufacturing and how advanced manufacturing technologies, innovation and collaboration combine to meet tomorrow’s demand.
TT: WHAT IS THE OPERATIONS COUNCIL (OC)?
KIM: The Operations Council consists of the Operations Vice President from each business unit and the Vice President of Corporate Operations within Engineering, Technology and Mission Assurance. The council meets regularly as a forum for cross business collaboration and alignment to achieve company goals and objectives. Leveraging the experience, expertise and resources of the enterprise, as a team we tackle operations challenges, initiatives for resolution and advanced manufacturing projects. We are also instrumental in adopting an enterprise lean strategy and driving the development and deployment of common tools, processes and metrics across all the businesses. The Operations Council schedules annual visits for the team to manufacturing facilities of several companies outside the aerospace/defense industry, which helps maintain a benchmark for Industry 4.0 initiatives and is a great opportunity to learn and share ideas and best practices.
TT: WHAT FUNCTIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES ARE INCLUDED IN OPERATIONS?
DIANE: Operations is fundamental to our business. It is where technology and innovation intersect and synergize, enabling us to deliver cutting edge capabilities to our customers around the world. As a multifaceted organization, Operations has the responsibility of leading, developing and executing global manufacturing, continuous improvement and transition to production strategies. Developing effective solutions requires a collaborative enterprisewide team involving engineering, supply chain, operations and other critical support functions with representatives from all the businesses working together. This operational diversity empowers us to increase efficiency and reduce cycle time. Our teams also use advanced manufacturing technologies to drive competitive advantage and grow and evolve our capabilities to meet the rapidly changing customer demand.
TT: WHAT EFFECT HAVE INDUSTRY 4.0 AND DIGITAL MANUFACTURING HAD IN SHAPING THE OC’S MISSION?
ALLEN: With Industry 4.0 has come the maturation of new technologies and processes including common test platforms, collaborative robots, automated guided vehicles and data analytics, all of which help to increase efficiency, facilitate employee workflows, reduce variation and identify opportunities for further process optimization. The Operations Council collaborates across the businesses and with commercial industries on these and other Industry 4.0 technology and concepts. This has shaped our mission to prioritize key technology pursuits such as cyber resiliency, which is fundamental to ensuring our factories’ systems remain secure, and data analytics, which are enabled by the increase in information from devices, sensors and processes that support migration from reactive factory management to a more proactive and predictive approach.
TT: WITH TODAY’S RAPID TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS, WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACING OPERATIONS?
TAY: Rapid technological advancement is requiring manufacturing operations to adapt organizationally, culturally and technically. The close integration of IT (Information Technology) and OT (Operations Technology) systems in modern manufacturing, combined with automation and data science, requires us to look at new skills and organizational dynamics in manufacturing. Fundamentally, technology in manufacturing is a human-machine system, and we must place emphasis on the human experience and cultural change dynamics with these new advancements. Lastly, Industry 4.0 advancements require new disciplines in modern organizations, including data science, systems engineering, materials science, robotics, machine learning and cybersecurity. Our challenge is to foster and recruit these disciplines as well as Lean experts who are prepared to embrace the new technical advances in manufacturing.
TT: HOW DO YOU CREATE AND NURTURE INNOVATION IN OPERATIONS?
DIANE: Innovation goes far beyond the cultivation of new ideas. It is a critical component of Operations that helps drive efficiency, safety and reliability, along with cost and cycle time reductions. As leaders, we set the tone for innovation and establish it as a strategic imperative. Using grass roots initiatives, we encourage ideas at all levels of our organizations, from cell leaders to the Vice President; we enable teams to research and pilot new technology; and we engage stakeholders and cross-functional partners to fine tune processes and act as thought leaders. Solutions come not only through internal collaboration but also result from our collaboration with academic institutions and consortiums. Manufacturing innovation is based on building a culture that is open to creativity and challenges the status quo, fostering cutting edge ideas to develop the best technology solutions for Operations.
TT: HOW DO THE OPERATIONS TEAMS COLLABORATE ACROSS THE BUSINESSES?
MARK: There are a number of collaboration efforts regularly occurring between the four Operations organizations. With technologists from each of the businesses participating, these focused efforts target specific technologies and capabilities to support needs across the enterprise. A recent Circuit Card initiative is a great example of this, where we are continually investigating and implementing efficiency measures to reduce defects and improve costs. The Operations Council funds a number of cross business team initiatives to do initial research in areas such as Model Based Work Instructions, Remote Maintenance via Virtual Reality, and Wearable Device Integration.
TT: WHAT EXCITES YOU ABOUT OPERATIONS TODAY AT RAYTHEON?
ALLEN: As we leverage advanced technologies to provide our customers with the best performing systems at the lowest possible cost, we are shaping a new and exciting future for Operations. As our customers’ needs evolve to address new mission areas, product technologies and manufacturing processes are also evolving. Operations is engaging early in the product development lifecycle, partnering with design teams to develop producible designs, execute development, and transition advanced new products into full-scale production. We are leveraging emerging technologies such as composability, additive manufacturing and the Digital Thread in our designs to provide flexibility in manufacturing and streamline the transition to the factory. More than ever, we are in an environment where Operations is empowered and expected to make a positive impact to the bottom line, and our people are focused on promoting the best of themselves to deliver a quality product.
TT: ALONG WITH INDUSTRIAL DIGITIZATION COMES BIG DATA REQUIREMENTS. WHAT REQUIREMENTS HAS THIS PLACED ON OPERATIONS AT RAYTHEON?
TAY: As the world evolves from a product- and tool-based society to a data-centric society, so does manufacturing. Creating systems that can access, assimilate and rapidly transform data into useful information requires new ways of thinking about data and computing architectures in manufacturing. For example, a single automation cell for a complex aerospace assembly can perform more than 4,000 operations per unit build. The numerous digital collects, image captures, and records per operation from the build, along with additional data from the products’ sub-components, can produce digital records that grow exponentially. Similarly, smart building systems crunch data from over 100,000 edge sensors monitoring energy and the health of critical systems. Data science and algorithmic expertise are required to extract value from this vast amount of information. Also, a lean manufacturing philosophy helps ensure that we solve the right problems with these analytics and communicate them in a way that is understood by anyone from operator to Vice President.
TT: HOW DOES AN EMPLOYEE PROVIDE IDEAS AND SUGGESTIONS TO RAYTHEON OPERATIONS?
KIM: Across our manufacturing facilities, the Total Employee Engagement program empowers and encourages every employee to submit innovation ideas ranging from safety to process and product improvement to cost savings. Through Corporate Technology and Research, there are programs to fund innovative project ideas, in which a Manufacturing Technical Area Director (TAD) is involved to help vet those specific to Operations. The Operations Council is also a venue where employees can submit project ideas that have cross business applications.