Boeing: Change of general manager of the Max 8 production= Less Lean, More Safety?

lean manufacturing at Boeing
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Boeing changed the leadership of its Max 8 production

The Toyota Lean Management Expert retires

New leader has extensive shop floor, safety and decisional experience


Boeing recently announced that it was replacing  Walter Odisho, a former Toyota Motor Corp. executive who joined the planemaker in 2013 as a vice president in charge of manufacturing, safety, and quality. His replacement is Ed Clark Jr., a Boeing executive with significant experience in production and the added perspective of having worked for several airlines.

Over a year ago, it was suggested that Boeing’s adoption of lean manufacturing may have created tension between safety margins and efficiency. Boeing’s 5S Problem and Does Boeing’s Lean Manufacturing Drive Need Some SMS Balancing? This observation was an insight in an article Boeing 737 Max and Lean Transformation by Bob Emiliani Review of the massive NTSB docket and other similar sources of reliable facts do not mention  Toyota’s 1930 operating model “The Toyota Way” (Toyota Production System, TPS).

2 Boeing lean posters





This transition may be a recognition that the cost saving element, which was Odisho’s forte, needs more balance in the manufacturing decision-making process.

Boeing wants to go deeper into Toyota-style ‘lean’ production for planes

Boeing lean manufacturing PP page

“I think the 777X will be our first opportunity to show the ideas that we have to date,” said Walter Odisho, Boeing’s vice president of manufacturing and safety, referring to the world’s largest twin-engined jet that is due to enter service in 2020.

“However, we also have the capability to affect the other programs that we have in place … In many cases we’re looking to standardize our approach,” he told Reuters.

Odisho, 52, was speaking in his first interview since joining Boeing in December 2013 from Toyota, where he oversaw manufacturing at the carmaker’s $6 billion plant in Kentucky.

While standardized production is common in the auto industry it is rarer in aerospace, where volumes are lower and airlines demand more customization but where output is rising fast.

Odisho said planemakers need to make production “more repeatable and predictable.”

He declined to estimate cost savings from the shift toward “Advanced Manufacturing,” an innovative set of production tools that can include robotics, but called them significant.

“The idea of achieving significant savings in a single action is a fallacy. We’ll take the opportunities and when you add them all up together, I think they will amount to quite significant improvements,” Odisho said.

Boeing has long relied on Toyota-inspired “lean” production methods to improve efficiency, but Odisho has been hired to help push car industry thinking deeper into its manufacturing plants.

That matches an approach taken at Airbus, where car industry executives in senior positions are more evident.

“If you look at aerospace with market demand rising, we need to start thinking differently and move efficiencies from the auto industry into this arena,” Odisho said.

Last month Boeing started automating the assembly of 737 wing panels and is introducing robots on the 777.

“I think we are beginning the journey,” Odisho said. “There are areas … such as drilling where we have a lot of repetitive motion.”

Mr. Odisho’s experience (SEE BELOW CV) .⇒ is heavy on production and not full of SMS and other safety processes needed to make the finite judgments between these two considerations. What is even more telling is that Boeing put him in charge of production AND SAFETY.



In contrast, Mr. Clark knows the production process from an A&P mechanic up to engineering, as shown by his resume.


Clark CV




























The Odisho to Clark change suggests that the TPS approach may have had some role in the Max 8’s crash. MCAS was not within Odisho’s production purview, but may well have touched his manufacturing, safety, and quality responsibilities. Software decisions were likely located elsewhere, but the literature on lean manufacturing clearly states that it is the responsibility of everyone to speed up the process and to lower costs. The disclosed, internal communications reflect enthusiasm for those results.

Sadly, the same attitude is supposed to create a pervasive Safety Culture under SMS.
Boeing SMS

Boeing Names New Chief for 737 Max Program, Its Fifth Since 2018

Boeing production line


Julie JohnsonBy  Julie Johnsson

March 12, 2021, 2:31 PM EST




Boeing Co. selected a new honcho for its 737 Max jetliner program — the fifth executive to hold the post since 2018.

Ed Clark Jr., a vice president who previously served as chief mechanic and chief engineer for the single-aisle aircraft family, was named general manager of the operation, according to a memo sent to employees Friday.

Ed Clark

His duties include running the Renton, Washington, campus where Boeing has manufactured the workhorse 737s for more than a half-century. The program grappled with parts shortages in 2018, and hundreds of undelivered jets built during a grounding imposed in March 2019 after two fatal crashes.

Clark held leadership roles at Southwest Airlines Co., the world’s largest 737 operator, and now-defunct Trans World Airlines before joining Boeing in 2006 as chief mechanic for single-aisle replacement studies. More recently, he was a vice president for global technical operations with the planemaker’s global services division.

He replaces Walter Odisho, a former Toyota Motor Corp. executive who joined the planemaker in 2013 as a vice president in charge of manufacturing, safety and quality. Odisho is retiring after taking over the 737 program a year ago, nursing the Renton site back online following a four-month shutdown.

Walt Odisho










Odisho “has been a tireless champion for safety and first-time quality,” Mark Jenks, vice president in charge of airplane programs, said in the memo.

Boeing lean v. SMS


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