What Boeing Can Teach Small Business Owners about EfficiencyPosted by Jessica Oman
I just toured the Boeing assembly building in Everett, BC. Besides the sheer mass of the planes and the building, what impressed me was how crucial efficient processes are to Boeing’s operations. Without timely parts delivery, thorough employee training, functional equipment and precise logistics, Boeing could never produce 3-10 places a month from its factory as part of its lean manufacturing system. What’s even more amazing is how these operations contribute to the incredible safety record of their planes.
Boeing is a massive factory, and its Everett operations employ 35,000 people. Your business may only employ four or five; maybe your small business is just you. Even so, refining your operations and processes so they are leaner and more efficient can help you and your team produce a lot more without compromising quality.
Boeing’s 777 moving assembly line moves at 2 inches per hour. If someone takes a coffee break, drops a hammer or forgets one step in the process, that assembly line still moves. In your business, time still passes regardless of how clear your processes are. Your customers still expect their products on time. So think about how you can do a better job of ensuring you meet those deadlines. Can you do things in a different order? Is a phone consultation faster than emailing back and forth? Do you need a faster printer in your office so you’re not waiting for print jobs? Even saving a few seconds per day by changing a simple process can save you many hours in the long run. You’ll get more done without adding any stress, working longer hours or hiring more people.
The 787 planes at Boeing are currently assembled at a rate of about 3 per month. However, they are working on refining their process so they can assemble an entire aircraft at about three per month. If Boeing can do it, so can you.
I suggest finding one process in your business that you can change to save you and your staff some time and add value for your customers. Do this once a week and you’ll soon be running a leaner business that doesn’t require any more resources than you had to begin with.