Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Boeing 737 Factory Visit

Factories are cool. I mean, who doesn't like a factory? I've seen many factories in my life. A few were beverage factories, like the small scale wine production facilities, and breweries from micro-sized to the Coors and Miller mega-breweries. I worked in a facility that made DSL modems and other telecommunications parts using high-tech chip manufacturing processes. And my father has walked me through his enormous factory making calendars for clients like the Roman Catholic Church and Playboy. (Odd pairing, I know, but saints and sinners alike must know when Daylight Savings Time begins!)

But today's factory tour takes the cake! I was treated, along with 20 of my closest colleagues, to a tour of the commercial 737 manufacturing line at the Boeing Renton facility. Hands down, this is the largest product line I've ever seen.

The stats here are incredible. They have something like fifteen planes in the pipeline at any one time. They run three shifts, and employ something like 2,500 people at this facility. (Most of which wore biker gear and were heavily tattooed. This is the Pacific Northwest, after all.)

The fuselages arrive on rail cars from Kansas and are immediately fitted with wings. Then, the planes roll along at a pace of two inches per minute receiving all internal and external components, including tail fins, horizontal stabilizers, internal electronics, avionics, flaps, engines, galleys, seats, everything!

The factory produces approximately 30 planes per month for airlines all over the world. That is one complete airplane per day! While we were there, we saw airplanes for Ryanair, Continental, Southwest, and a couple of Chinese and Arabic airlines.

It was really, really awesome! I only wish my boys could have seen it.

The following video is one I found of the Renton facility, and it pretty much sums up the experience. I must tell you, the music in the video is great! There's nothing like rock guitar solos paired with airplane montages to swell the breast with American pride! Yes, we still make stuff in this country, and it is freaking awesome!

3 comments:

Chuck said...

Not only does Boeing still make planes, it makes good planes, roundly beating the tin-can Airbus and those dreadful little Embraer and Bombardier mosquitoes all hollow. Boeing makes serious, solid aircraft.

And yes, everybody here in the northwest has tattoos. Tattoos are old hat, and tattoo sleeves are what people are upgrading to.

Scott said...

I'm definitely passing on the tats. I've no budget for laser removal surgery in 20 years.

Sandi said...

Watching them start their day looks something like a day in the OP. You have carts filled with all of the supplies you'll need for your first case.

I'm sure the boys, your Dad included, would have enjoyed the tour!!

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