TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Shorter product cycles, constantly changing technology and intense competition are roiling the auto industry.
But automakers can be first with new technology and they can improve manufacturing efficiencies by collaborating with businesses outside the industry, says Rich Pearson, CEO of the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences.
Why is Boeing having discussions with Toyota and Ford? Pearson asked an audience at the Management Briefing Seminars on Monday.
Its easier for Boeing to collaborate with Toyota and Ford than it is for Boeing to collaborate with Airbus.
The National Center for Manufacturing Sciences of Ann Arbor, Mich., is a research consortium that promotes cross-industry collaboration.
Pearson explained that Boeing is changing production of big jets to a moving assembly line. Boeing is consulting with Toyota Motor Corp. and Ford Motor Co. on setting up automotive-style assembly lines. Aircraft makers traditionally build planes in one spot.
It only moves 1.2 inches per minute, but still it is a moving line, and it is a real paradigm shift for Boeing, Pearson said of the assembly line.
You can find very new and interesting technologies that are not in your industry that can be adapted to your industry. Everywhere we go, we find examples of that.
All industries are facing intense global pressures, Pearson said, and even if companies deliver quality goods on time and on budget, that doesnt mean they can expect to keep their existing customers.
He added that pricing and market pressures will ensure constant churn as customers defect to companies that offer lower prices and innovative products.
The new loyalty for the customer is no loyalty, Pearson said. The new loyalty for the customer is the best product at the best time for the best price.
You may e-mail Richard Truett at