FRAMINGHAM (03/24/2000) - When you design and build high-performance fighter aircraft like the Lockheed Martin F-16 and F-22, gathering information about processes, parts and procedures is critical to producing a superior airplane while controlling costs.
But that's hard to do when your critical data is scattered all over the place and there's no systematic way to analyze it, said Peter Wynne, who is the director of product management integration at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. in Fort Worth, Texas.
To solve the problem, Lockheed Martin last year decided to centralize data on Hyperion Essbase, a database developed by Hyperion Solutions Corp. in Sunnyvale, California. Essbase and its accompanying suite of tools employ online analytical processing (OLAP) technology.
OLAP lets users from engineering, purchasing, manufacturing and other areas in the company examine data relative to aircraft design and manufacturing from a multidimensional view. The system has helped cut analyst labor costs by as much as 15 percent to 20 percent, Wynne said.
"OLAP provides a way to evaluate project costs, technical performance and risk for different airplane programs," said Wynne.
For instance, he said, managers can look at the materials used to make the leading wing flap on a fighter aircraft, then analyze manufacturing time, cost and other variables. This way, they can pinpoint problems and work on better meeting deadlines, cutting costs and fine-tuning production in the future.
"We also have the capability to measure the unit cost of an F-16. We can go into the various factory databases and pull out costs per unit and look at those over time," Wynne said. "We can see how that [cost] might change, vary or get better through implementation of efficiencies."
Essbase can also help the company analyze costs and production to determine which processes would best be outsourced, said Wynne.
And it can be applied across aircraft programs, he added. Many of the lessons learned on the F-16, for instance, can be applied to the new Joint Strike Fighter that Lockheed Martin is developing for branches of the U.S. and U.K. military.
Lockheed Martin also uses Essbase for staffing forecasts. "We have about 1,000 integrated product team leaders," Wynne said. They input their staffing needs, and the OLAP system can match them "almost down to the skill level."