So this is going to spur a lot of
“Boeing is Leaving!” stories. They’ll go a little something like this:
1) Boeing has increased its investment and management of 787 manufacturing facilities in the South.
2) The South is generally “Right to Work” and that means there is less risk of strike.
3) Boeing has been talking about creating a second line of the 787 and now it looks like this is where that will be.
4) This is the beginning of the end of aerospace in Washington state.
5) A reference to the “last person to leave, turn out the lights” billboard.
Maybe. Boeing may or may not build a second line of the 787 and they may or may not do it in South Carolina. But this story isn’t really about that, IMHO. It’s about the difficulties that the company is experiencing with the global supply chain model, and the frustrations with being at the mercy of the competence of other companies when you’re getting burned in the press for delays in your signature new product.
In my former life as an organizational development consultant for emerging arts organizations, we used to get these really excited, idealistic artists coming in and telling us that they wanted to reinvent the way art was made, reinvent how the audience experienced the art and reinvent the business model for how an arts organization sustained itself. And my business partner Frank would always say to them, “how many revolutions can you possibly handle at one time?”
The first 787 hasn’t flow yet, so it’s a little too early still to do a post mortem on the revolution in materials sciences (composites) juxtaposed with the revolution in global supply chain airplane manufacturing and assembly, but time is beside the point when you’re trying to get a product flying during a global recession and you’ve got customers getting impatient. So you start to shrink the supply chain a little bit, or at least start managing more of its parts. Whether or not that helps speed up the departure of aerospace jobs from the region is a question for Boeing, hopefully with substantial input from the Washington Aerospace Partnership.
UPDATED, PART 2: Ashton Kutcher is our region’s new best friend. Move over, Drew Carey!