In an effort to improve its production process for building its 787 Dreamliner, The Boeing Co. (BA) has begun completing assembly of the planes on uncovered tarmac at its Everett, Washington, plant. According to an exclusive report from Reuters a minimum of 16 787 fuselages have piled up in Wichita, waiting to be shipped to Washington.
According to the Reuters report:
The unusual shifts [in processes], details of which have not been previously reported, are partly a response to unfinished jobs building up as 787s move along the assembly line and partly an effort by Boeing to speed up the factories.
Boeing has had to work through other problems with assembling the 787. In April workers in Washington discovered that several fasteners installed at the company’s plant in South Carolina fell to the ground when they tried to connect the fuselage to the wings.
Boeing currently builds 10 Dreamliners a month and has targeted production for this year at 110 units, nearly double the 65 planes it built in 2013. That production target has been met so far in 2014. But to meet the demand workers in Washington are working mandatory 10-hour shifts and weekends to complete the assembly work that should have been accomplished in South Carolina.
More than 1,000 787s have been ordered since Boeing began taking orders 10 years ago, and that demand has posed a significant challenge for the company. The eight years it took to get the plane out the door cost the company an estimated $32 billion and Boeing wants to speed up repayment on that investment. The best way to accomplish that is to build more 787s and that still seems to be a long ways off.