Boeing opens pulse line for satellite assembly

ST. LOUIS -- Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems officials in St. Louis are ready to use a pulse line assembly line process for integrating satellites in El Segundo, Calif. The process is expected to shorten the time it takes to build orbiting spacecraft.

Sep 10th, 2008

ST. LOUIS --Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems officials in St. Louis are ready to use a pulse line process for assembling satellites and satellite avionics in El Segundo, Calif. The process is expected to shorten the time it takes to build a space vehicle.

The first satellites to be manufactured on the pulse line will be the Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF satellitesBoeing is building for the U.S. Air Force. All Boeing's satellite production lines will adopt the process over time.

"With this process, we are reducing the travel distance of a space vehicle from 12,000 feet to 10,000 feet," says John Duddy, director of GPS programs for Boeing. "We are really excited about this build process for space vehicles and its impressive results, and our Air Force customer is pleased to have the GPS spacecraft used for this process."

The process will move parts through 13 pulse positions. work cells, tooling, standard work-planning packages, and lean manufacturing processes will reduce the total build time per satellite and increase the number of vehicles moving through the line at one time. The line is intended to eliminate rework, enabling parts to flow continuously and smoothly through the process.

"With 12 satellites on order, the GPS program is for a manufacturing pulse line, because similar satellites can easily adapt to a process that mirrors mass production," says Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems. "The value of a pulse line is that it increases efficiency and therefore enables us to reduce costs. As we continue to simplify our satellite designs to standardize the items that are inherent in every spacecraft built by Boeing, the implementation of a pulse line will yield tremendous benefits in the areas of efficiency and cost savings."

The Air Force is under contract with Boeing to build 12 GPS IIF satellites that will provide the newest GPS technology and capability to civilians and the warfighter.

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