Not all crises can be avoided, but many can. From our point of view, it is actually not that difficult. Good and, above all, robust planning is a good start. And the necessary knowledge is usually available among the employees in the respective companies.
Basically, there are two challenges that need to be differentiated here. On the one hand, the variability of capacity utilisation by adapting production planning to a changing order situation and, on the other hand, changes brought about by the introduction of new products.
The high order backlog in the civil aviation industry for decades has resulted in long-term and stable production planning by manufacturers and suppliers. The current high demand for commercial aircraft also leads to almost annual upward adjustments. As a rule, however, the lead-time is long enough for everyone - including suppliers - to be able to adjust.
The introduction of new products is more problematic. A new aircraft, such as the A350, usually brings with it a multitude of innovations: new systems, new materials, new manufacturing processes, to name but a few. The aircraft development process is therefore characterised by greater uncertainties compared to later production. After all, one wants to set standards with the new product that will offer the customer advantages over the competitor in the long run. It is therefore in the nature of things that not all "features" can be secured on the development side at the beginning of the development. This then leads to "late changes" that can massively disrupt the development process and the downstream production processes at the manufacturer and the suppliers.
Incidentally, both factors play a role not only in the aviation industry. In one of our projects, we took a look at the quality management system of a large globally operating plant manufacturer in southern Germany. We were very surprised to see how many parallels there were to aviation in the development and production process.
In the next blog, we will explain how, from our point of view, a crisis check could look like for the first case of "safeguarding ongoing production while taking into account changing quantities by the client".