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Lockheed Missiles & Fire Control: Precision and Quality



PAC-3 Missile

More than 4,400 people work at the Lockheed Missiles and Fire Control plant, outside of Orlando. The plant is part of the Missiles and Fire Control (MFC) division that is headquartered near Dallas. In total, MFC employs 10,000 people in eleven states, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

Between February and November 2013 alone, MFC received $840 million in contracts from the U.S. military and U.S. allies like South Korea and Saudi Arabia. MFC provides missiles, fighter-jet weapons-targeting radar systems, missile launch detectors, electro-optical fire-control systems for helicopters, flight-training systems, and war-gaming training, among other products and services.

In 2012, MFC received the highly coveted Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. MFC’s return on investment had grown at a 23 percent compound annual rate, compared to a 13.7 percent rate at its nearest industry competitor. Its operating margin over 11 years had a compound annual growth rate of 6.2 percent.

Focused on continual improvement, MFC used a lean-manufacturing process called value-stream mapping to evaluate 8,500 processes from 2000 to 2012. This mapping covered 90 percent of the enterprise direct costs. The studies found that supplier on-time delivery had been near 100 percent. Time reductions associated with process and performance improvement saved an estimated average of $225 million per year. Facility uptime had been at 100 percent since 2007 despite nearly 2,000 potential disruptions. Equally impressive, MFC achieved a 99.4 percent on-time delivery record while experiencing a 1,000 percent growth in annual deliveries over the 11-year period.

Achieving these results requires a complex system of procedures that is followed carefully, coupled with a corporate culture that emphasizes excellence. The results are also a reflection on Lockheed’s supplier companies, who manufacture precision parts to specification and deliver them on schedule.

The work of defense contractors and their suppliers is becoming ever-more difficult in an era of scarce budget resources and sequestration. Companies like MFC will continue to be challenged to push the limits on productivity and budget efficiency without compromising product reliability, quality and timeliness. As an essential foundation of the U.S. industrial base, the success of MFC and other defense contractors in meeting that challenge will be critically important.

Yet, it’s important at the end of the day to remember that defense contractors, like all manufacturers, are people. And in that regard, it’s worth noting that MFC employees donate, on average, more than $2 million per year to charities in their home communities. That is just another reason that Lockheed Missiles and Fire Control constitutes a Great Manufacturing Story.

To read other Great Manufacturing Stories, click here.