Lean Manufacturing and the Defense Industry

Lessons for Cost Analysts

by Cynthia R. Cook, John C. Graser

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This research brief describes work documented in Military Airframe Acquisition Costs: The Effects of Lean Manufacturing (MR-1325-AF).

Excerpt: Since the end of the Cold War, the Department of Defense (DoD) has launched a number of initiatives whose common objective has been to reduce the costs of weapon systems that are planned, under development, or in production. Largely in response to these measures, U.S. defense firms have in recent years begun to embrace lean manufacturing, a broad collection of principles and practices whose aim is to refashion the production process in a manner that includes the elimination of waste, the removal of inventory buffers, and a focus on quality. To date, however, few studies have been undertaken to determine the extent to which government cost-estimating tools should be appropriately adjusted to reflect the growing use of such practices within the military aircraft industry.

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This research brief describes work done for RAND's Project AIR FORCE.

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