Spirit AeroSystems has announced a plan to invest more than $100 million in automation projects to support production rate increases across four Airbus and Boeing aircraft programmes.

“We continue to drive the enterprise to find the most efficient and productive approaches for the rate increases on 737, A320, 787, and A350,” says Spirit AeroSystems chief executive Larry Lawson. “In addition to investments to support rate, we are investing in automation projects of over $100 million. These automation projects will return our investment in three to four years and continue to differentiate our manufacturing capability.”

The monthly rate for the 737 is expected to rise from 42 today to 52 in 2018, as Airbus increases the A320 rate from 42 to 50 in 2017. The 787 rate is rising from 10 per month to 12 in 2016 and the A350 is ramping up to 10 per month by 2017.

Spirit AeroSystems supplies major fuselage structures for the 737, 787 and A350 and wing structures for all of them including the A320.

The rate of production is increasing even as Airbus and Boeing introduced eight new versions of those four aircraft combined over the next five years, raising pressure on major suppliers such as Spirit AeroSystems to keep up with demand.

“You’re going to see us spend a lot of energy focusd on internal investments,” Lawson told analysts on a first quarter earnings call on 29 April. “We really have some opportunities to invest in ourselves to connive to improve operations.”

The investment also was announced after Spirit AeroSystems disposed of a business making wings for the Gulfstream G280 and G650 business jet programmes. A series of contractual and performance shortfalls on those programmes drove Spirit AeroSystems to announce more than $1 billion in forward losses during 2013. GKN purchased the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based business from Spirit AeroSystems last year.

Source: Cirium Dashboard