Honeywell's wheel and brakes business is showing how the adoption of lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, better customer focus and strict quality control can translate to double-digit growth.

Improvements introduced over the last two years have resulted in 17% annual growth, 95% on-target delivery dates and customers knocking at the door.

Chief executive Bob Johnson says customers are begging Honeywell to fit its wheels and brakes to their aircraft - a bold claim, but one that is verified by the company's recent 93% win rate. Peg Billson, vice-president and general manager, Aircraft Landing Systems, explains that improvements have been made across the board, using Six Sigma's core methodology of 'Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, and Control'.

"We refocused on competitiveness, delivery, customer support and quality," says Billson. "Our factories have been improved and we worked in partnership with the unions and employees to make sure they all understood what we were trying to achieve.

"I visited a line recently and an employee told me that even a single scratch on a wheel is unacceptable - that's what we mean by excellence. We embraced lean manufacturing, added capital equipment and took a long, hard look at the way we worked - in one plant we reduced the distance that hardware travelled from a total eight miles to about five," Billson says.

Honeywell's Aircraft Landing Systems is a $385 million business with just over 1,300 people at 12 regional and overseas sites, including the USA, UK, China, Denmark, Sweden, Greece, Guam and Panama. With headquarters in South Bend, Indiana, its market includes both commercial and military customers.

Source: Flight Daily News