SEATTLE, 22 Sept. 2015. Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of The Boeing Company in Seattle, opened the 2015 SAE AeroTech Congress and Exhibition at the Washington Convention Center in Seattle with a discussion of “Innovation Where It Counts.”
Muilenburg assumed the role of CEO in July 2015; he had already been serving as company president, and started at Boeing 30 years ago as an engineering intern.
Boeing is approaching its centennial, having started in 1916. The company is building a new composite wing factory, measuring roughly 25 football fields in size, in Everett. Boeing staff are also building 42 Boeing 737s per month at the company’s Renton facility.
“The business we are in certainly is a global business, but it continues to become more and more global,” Muilenburg says. “Traffic patterns continue to expand globally. We see passenger traffic growing at 6 to 7 percent a year, and cargo at 5 percent a year.
“The nature of our business is fundamentally changing,” Muilenburg adds, noting the value of growing global collaboration. “We must expand in that direction. It is important that we develop partnerships -- to have presence and partnerships around the world, to have depth, and that comes in many forms.
“Companies that have traditionally been competitors – such as Bombardier, Northrop Grumman, and COMAC – are now both competitors and collaborators,” Muilenburg affirms. For example, “COMAC a key part of our supply chain, and at the same time developing the C919, which will be a competitor in commercial aviation. Competition and collaboration expand the overall aerospace network around the world.
Apple, Google, and Amazon are working on unmanned aircraft; Facebook is involved in satellites. “They are all emerging competitors and collaborators; competition and partnerships make us a better company,” Muilenburg stresses. Boeing enjoys R&D collaboration centers in Russia, Australia, Germany; industrial collaboration in Japan and Korea; simulation and training in the UAE and Syria; and so on.
“Aerospace is a $6.9 trillion marketplace over the next decade – commercial and defense – it is a healthy, growing market.” It is all globalizing and prompting companies such as Boeing to focus on “innovation where it counts,” Muilenburg says.
Innovation where it counts, he says, includes:
Product innovation – the next level of performance and capabilities to customers; need more capability for less money; designing for cost, producability, and reliability – having the right balance for the future
Manufacturing – automation and robotic capabilities, improved safety and lean operations, adding new platforms to existing production lines
Talent – investment in talent, as technical leaders, is the most important investment; must invest in next generation of talent. “We will see half of the work force eligible to retire in the next five to seven years,” Muilenburg says. “We need to focus on talent and it’s beyond STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics); it is manufacturing, allowing us to grow and compete globally.”
In summation, Muilenburg stresses: “Lives depend upon what we do – passengers, militaries, astronauts on the edge of space – and that demands excellence.”
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