Boeing 787: A Look at the Supply Chain Used to Build it

Much has been made recently about the processes used in assembling the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.  With all of the problems it has had, it is somewhat reasonable to see such critiques arise.  Using multiple suppliers is by no means a new idea.  Every large manufacturer does it, but there probably aren’t many that do it on the scale that Boeing does for their 787.

Randy Tinseth, vice president, marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Seattle, recently shared a blog post that laid out the supply chain used in building the 787 in the form of a simple diagram.  While it is clearly a major simplification, it does give some perspective of where all of the pieces come from.

Personally, I don’t see the problem with it.  Clearly Boeing feels they need to go to numerous sources to provide the highest quality product at a price they think their customers will accept.  They are a for-profit business that has every right to pick whoever they want to supply their parts.

It is easy to say that having such a huge supply chain is contributing to the issues with the 787, but that is just looking for the easy way out in my opinion.

So what are the pros and cons of having such a long supply chain?  Should Boeing have stayed closer to home with its products, or does their attempt to make a profit make the risk worth it?