Company Detail: Nextant Aerospace was born from the founders of the Cleveland-based Flight Options LLC, the first nationwide previously owned aircraft fractional-ownership program, in order to reach a new market opportunity: delivering affordable business jets to small- and mid-size companies. Their base concept was to rebuild preowned Beechjet 400A/XP aircraft with the latest avionics, electronics and luxury cabin furnishings. These remanufactured Nextant 400XT aircraft would fly farther and faster than their predecessors and cost less to operate.
Growth Challenge: Nextant needed manufacturing expertise in order to enter this new market while creating an efficient manufacturing flow essentially from scratch. Upon analysis, the company also found that, in order to effectively deliver on their proposal of 32 remanufactured jets within one year, they would need to grow their staff from 28 to 80 workers per shift and expand their facilities beyond their single hangar.
How We Worked With Them: MAGNET consultants led Director of Quality Assurance Jim Immke, President Jim Miller and their staff through workshops and simulations on how to effectively use lean principles in their manufacturing process. MAGNET also used 3D CAD to revise Nextant’s workflow and hangar layout for maximum efficiency of overall manufacturing flow and movement, and has since provided stock and warehousing assistance among other services.
Outcome: Nextant saw a 50% increase in their production capacity and now has an optimized and defined operation sequence spaced between three hangars while cutting $5,000 per week in change-over costs. They have also hired more than 100 employees since their first lean workshop and continue to teach them lean principles.
In addition to facilitating kaizan and education events on lean principles, MAGNET consultants helped Immke create a new hangar layout for every plane, part, tool and person in the new manufacturing flow. The interior and exterior of each plane undergoes a complete overhaul. Note the tool bin at the right-hand corner.
Nextant’s ERP system displays current-state metrics on large flat-panel screens located throughout the manufacturing facility. At a glance everyone knows who is working on what project, and what that project’s status is.
In just 12 to 14 weeks, Nextant’s skilled workers turn a worn-out aircraft into a state-of-the-art corporate jet with a completely rebuilt interior. Image courtesy Nextant Aerospace.
James F. Immke, Director of Quality Assurance for Nextant Aerospace, leads the development of the company’s innovative remanufacturing program based on a foundation of lean manufacturing principles.
The new Delivery Hangar at Nextant Aerospace. Both Nextant Aerospace and its sister company Flight Options are based at the compact Cuyahoga County Airport facility about 10 miles east of downtown Cleveland.
After months of meticulous planning, a new Wire Harness Assembly Shop required just 2.5 days to set up. Since the move was done over the weekend, the company experienced the minimum possible manufacturing downtime.
During kaizan events, Nextant’s shop-floor personnel made significant contributions to designing the most efficient workflow.