CFM International is ramping up the production of its CFM56 turbofan engines, driven by a record backlog and helped by new production methods. In 2010, the GE-Snecma joint venture signed 1,584 orders, and its current backlog now stands at a record 7,000-plus engines. “This does not take into account the order intents Boeing has received for its re-engined 737 Max,” CEO Jean-Paul Ebanga told AIN.
Last year’s 1,268 deliveries are set to be surpassed this year, Ebanga said. “We will probably deliver 100 more engines or so in 2012, compared to 2011,” he added.
The new production methods include shortening the production cycle at Snecma’s Villaroche factory, near Paris. To do this, the company recently started new “pulse lines,” a process whereby an engine is no longer assembled on a fixed station, rather, it progresses through five stations, and at regular “takt times” it is moved to the next station.
As a result of that innovation, it now takes just seven hours instead of 11 to put an engine together. One important change was adopting the practice of dealing with problems, such as a missing part, a quality issue and so forth, as soon as they arise. The company said 500 out of the 650 staff working on the lines were involved in devising the new way of manufacturing the engine.
Snecma also has improved the working environment in several ways, including by installing better lighting and reducing the need to handle heavy objects, for instance.
The company also revealed that the -1A (Airbus A320 NEO) and -1C (Comac C919) variants of the Leap-X family will enter service in 2016. Then, the -1B for the new Boeing 737 Max narrowbody will follow in 2017.