Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., a division of Lockheed Martin Corp. (Bethesda, MD) manufacturers some of the most advanced military aircraft in the world, and is lead contractor for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program-the single largest defense contract in history.

To help land the JSF contract, Lockheed Martin decided it needed to streamline its existing mainframe and paper-based process control systems. The result was the Electronic Work Instructions (EWI) project, a comprehensive effort to cut costs and increase manufacturing efficiency throughout the company.

The EWI project consists of two components, both supplied by the manufacturing software company Visiprise (Atlanta): Computer-Aided Process Planning, and Visiprise Shop Floor Manager. Specific goals for the EWI project included improved data integrity; reduced cost of data generation; increased access and use; enhanced user-friendliness on the shop floor; and reduced system support costs.

"We recognized an opportunity to update our infrastructure in a way that would increase productivity, and reduce both cost and waste," says Brad Leech, EWI senior manager at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. "With the EWI project we were able to streamline our processes as well as better organize our various business units into a comprehensive system."

The EWI project-which is ongoing-is no small undertaking. When fully deployed later this year, the system will provide access across the country to more than 6,000 users working on multiple aircraft programs. Already, Lockheed Martin has realized a number of improvements, including the implementation of standardized, digital work instructions, which reduce the number of paper printouts used during aircraft production; an increase in quality, thanks to the creation of annotated digital photo graphics of actual manufacturing process steps by product; and a reduction in assembly times, and the amount of scrap and rework generated.

The new system has been especially effective at improving the way engineering changes are incorporated into the manufacturing process. Previously, each change required a series of cumbersome steps, ensuring that the change was successfully logged throughout the system. Today, each change results in a near real-time adjustment to work instructions on the factory floor. Specifically, a manufacturing engineer can now provide notification of changes online, making them available to assembly workers as soon as the changes are entered into the system.

To get an idea of how data and information was previously being tracked via paper records and orders, consider that more than 2,000 separate orders are needed for the completion of a single F-16 aircraft. Each order has multiple pages of work instructions, blueprints, visual aides or graphics, as well as process specifications and standards. With the incorporation of EWI, Lockheed Martin has eliminated these paper printouts-a significant costs savings.

For more on manufacturing process software, call 800-953-5606, visit www.visiprise.com or eInquiry 1.