Textron Aviation builds from Mexico and stresses PEX, product excellence.


MEXICONOW Staff Interview

Textron Aviation has emerged as a leader in general aviation. Through growth it has gained the Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker brands which account for more than half of all general aviation aircraft flying, according to company information.

Mexico now plays a role in support of Textron’s product portfolio which includes business jets, general aviation and special mission turboprop aircraft, high performance piston aircraft, military trainer and defense aircraft.

What changes within Mexico is a newer manufacturing approach – on that impacts the bottom line, according to Hector Heras, general manager, Textron Aviation Mexico Operations:

Cessna Citation CJ4

Over the years in aerospace we have heard the names Beechcraft and Cessna. Now there is Textron. What is the relationship among these entities?

To give you background, we started with Cessna in Mexico, our first operation with Cessna. Cessna belongs to Textron and now Textron just acquired Beechcraft. We have both organizations under one, it is called Textron Aviation. It is global.

Textron Aviation belongs to Textron.

What is the production role for Mexico through this corporate arrangement?

For aerospace, Textron Aviation is located in Chihuahua City.

Helicopter Harness

From Chihuahua City what are your products?

In Chihuahua City we have very similar products between Cessna and Beechcraft. The processes are very, very similar. For all aircraft we produce for Cessna we produce 98 percent of the wiring harnesses. All the electrical portions of the aircraft are being manufactured in Chihuahua. We also have sheet metal assembly which consists of the construction of the fuselage. We have fabrication, which is very similar to machining process. We have metal bond and chemical treatment.

Customers in aviation want lighter, they want quality. They want the right competitive price. What are your customers telling you about what their expectations are from the Textron operations in Chihuahua?

The main expectation is to meet quality and delivery. Of course we have to provide good cost but the main expectation is to meet the quality or exceed the quality and within the right time.

Hawker- Beechcraft King Air 250

One thinks of something in aviation that has to weigh less but it has to be stronger. You talk about manufacturing wiring harnesses, it has to do so much more but with smaller gauge. How do you compensate for that and what is your approach?

Our approach; we have a very good product design engineers in the U.S. who are managing that, and they are providing us the guidelines on how it needs to be produced. On our side we have to manufacture according to these guidelines.

One thing that you point out is that Textron has changed its business approach to manufacturing. You say there is something new in the business approach for manufacturing. What is the difference, what makes it new?

The difference is the approach to go beyond manufacturing. The reason is to provide the right quality, doing it in the right time. We have to optimize all the processes but work together with all the different functions in order to accelerate, to have a better processes meeting such a standard, such requirements like design or specifications.

It means that we are always working together with different departments to optimize not only manufacturing, to optimize the way that we are launching products, the way that we are receiving the transition, the way that we are receiving our materials from suppliers not only the way that we manufacture the product.

What I hear in that answer is that you are in a dynamic situation; you cannot keep the status quo in what you are doing. For some reason you must be changing or continually improving. What am I seeing here?

That is correct. The lean traditional model, although every model is oriented to what I am saying, it is the same as what I am saying. The focus is at enterprise level. They are talking that we are going to do these lean activities in design, we are going to do these lean activities in manufacturing, we are going to develop our suppliers but they separate efforts not align into one effort.

We need a leader and the leader needs to be setting the pace of how fast we need to implement or how fast it needs to be launched, in manufacturing we can do that.

This is business. You talk about a different approach to profitability. What is different and how does everything you mention flow into that?

It is very, very similar to the previous approach, the only difference that I am saying is just how to make sure that we are doing the right things in manufacturing to have profit and not only focus on labor.

You talk about methodologies regardless of regional culture. Some may say, “Wait a minute you are not respecting the culture but yet you are saying this is a positive.” What makes a positive of methodologies regardless of regional culture?

Every time that we are going to do a business, of course every company is respecting the local culture. Sometimes if it is not working we are saying it is because of culture, because we wanted to implement it in our way and not using global knowledge. We want to implement and follow certain standards but if they were developed toward only certain cultures, for example talking about lean concept, they are oriented to work under the Toyota disciplined culture.

One is replicated; a copy paste is pretty difficult for certain cultures. What I am talking here is to develop the right methodologies that can be bullet proof regarding culture. It needs to be more global. It needs to cover more audience. It needs to be easy to digest so it can be implemented.

Bell 429 GlobalRanger Helicopter

You offer a new term: PEX approach. What is it and how receptive is your workforce to it?

It is a process of excellence and it is methodology that raises focus and improves every single process through the organization. They are very receptive because we are learning together about every single process that we are doing.

We are doing manufacturing, we are improving our processes. But we are improving our processes as to how our security is working, how our human resources is working, how our cafeteria is working. A small organization has a customer and they understand the customer, what is the objective of the customer and satisfy the customer.

Every single organization has a procedure and we take these procedure and move to the excellence level, a world class level we are going to have the whole organization, the complete entity working on excellence. There will not be just manufacturing production lines.

If the whole organization is following this PEX, the Product Excellence approach. What happens to the total cost of doing business?

It reduces, it is optimized. It is optimized because we are doing more with less. We are more efficient in every single step or process. We see the gains very, very soon.