Pratt & Whitney Searching for Products, Services to Ramp…

Pratt & Whitney Searching for Products, Services to Ramp…

Nov 9, 2016

“Pratt & Whitney Searching for Products, Services to Ramp Up Monthly Engine Production”

By Brett Brune, Editor, Smart Manufacturing

Manufacturing Engineering

CHICAGO—Pratt & Whitney is aggressively searching for smart manufacturing solutions that will allow it to successfully ramp up monthly production of engines for military and commercial aerospace engines, Kimberley Hagerty, Hot Section Module Center lean transformation manager, said yesterday at the 2nd Smart Factory World Symposium.

In 2010 P&W delivered about 55 engines a month. In 2017, that number grows to about 100 engines a month. And in 2024, it continues to climb to about 158 engine deliveries a month, she said. 

“And I’m doing that with 20-year-old technology and 20-year-old manufacturing processes and a very well-seasoned workforce” that adds significant complexity to the digital manufacturing transformation of the East Hartford, CT-based firm, Hagerty  said during a panel talk on best practices. 

“So the challenges ahead of me are steep.”

In an interview with Smart Manufacturing magazine after the panel discussion, Hagerty said she is “fresh into the exploratory phase” to find products and services her firm needs. She has mapped out her requirements.

“Now, I’m reaching out to the service providers” and scheduling visits to firms using products and services that might well work for Pratt & Whitney. She joined the firm five years ago, after retiring from the US Air Force as the chief of strategic planning and analysis.

The only tech move she’s made so far for her division at Pratt & Whitney is to enroll in the Forcam Academy, for shop-floor management. Forcam software was already deployed at a P&W Facility in Middletown, CT, and GKN, one of Pratt & Whitney’s suppliers.

“Forcam is one of the resources I reached out to as far as a serviced provider, because they provide a service I need from a machine health monitoring and data analytics standpoint.”

Hagerty told the crowd at yesterday’s smart manufacturing conference, which Forcam organized, that she commonly uses over 1,000 machines in four different states to build one customer’s engine.

“I’ll start production in Connecticut, do an interim shipment to another facility, do another manufacturing step there and send it to another facility in another state and do another step—and then I’ll finish my product back in Connecticut—for one customer order,” she said.

“From a virtual factory standpoint, I have very significant challenges going forward for my visibility and [the data] I need access to, in real time and in several different states.”

Within the past three months, Pratt & Whitney Operations “realigned ourselves to a complete value stream approach” that recognizes logistics, IT, operations, supply chain, production, delivery, and quality must be integrated, she said.

The engine maker is going after “real-time continuity across multiple manufacturing sites globally,” Hagerty said. “I not only have suppliers that are local; I have suppliers that are global. So … I think globally and not locally.”

Hagerty knows her “value stream”—it employs about 2,000 people and encompasses three business units—needs “real-time interactive tools—not spreadsheets, which a lot of us are used to.”

“One miss on one machine in one state upsets the entire value stream,” she said. “So I need real-time, what-if scenarios for what happens if something doesn’t arrive or something doesn’t move within my value stream, regardless of the state the machine is in. My entire value stream needs to adjust in real-time.”

The big challenge, now that the firm has been realigned operationally to a value stream, is how to get visibility into that value stream.

“Now, with the historic ramp up that Pratt & Whitney is experiencing, I’m going to be delivering more engines in the next 10 years than has been delivered in the history of the company,” which was founded in 1925 and is now a unit of United Technologies Corp., Hagerty said. “And I’ve got a workforce that needs to make significant adjustments because they’ve never experienced it before.

“I’ve got to transition my workforce. I’ve also got to transition my leadership to get them to understand digital factories and smart manufacturing. It’s a significant challenge.”

Hagerty made a direct appeal for input from vendors interested in helping her quickly advance “on this digital transformation journey.” 

Technology, which some consider “scary,” is advancing rapidly “in an industry that may or may not be ready for it but that desperately needs it,” she said. “We need to understand we’re all in this together.”


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