Lockheed Martin Begins Production Use of Streamlined Data Exchange With Suppliers

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics has initiated full production use of a new standard for technical data exchange with its suppliers. The standard will provide significant improvements in accuracy, cost and delivery time of purchased items for aircraft.

"A majority of total aircraft cost today comes from our suppliers of raw material, fabricated parts, entire subsystems and support equipment," said Mike Walters, vice president of Material Management. "It is imperative that prime contractors lean out the supplier value chain, and one of the ways to do this is to take advantage of advances in digital information transfer."

The standard is known as STEP (Standard for the Exchange of Product model data). In 1988, a government/industry consortium, titled PDES Inc., was formed to fully develop and deploy the STEP standards. Lockheed Martin is a founding member of the consortium, which currently has 20 members, with a combined annual revenue of more than $500 billion.

Traditionally, large volumes of engineering data were transmitted manually in hard copies to potential suppliers in bid packages. Data often had to be interpreted and reentered into different data systems, resulting in time delays and errors. Using STEP, data can be quickly and accurately transmitted electronically to first-tier suppliers, and if needed, retransmitted to lower- tier suppliers.

The production data base is updated daily. Potential suppliers are notified via e-mail of a business opportunity that could be of interest to them. They are directed to a secure web site data vault where they can download the engineering data directly and quickly. What used to take weeks is now done in a matter of minutes.

"We are in an age where large amounts of data are required to be moved throughout the LM Aero enterprise -- across departments and among widely dispersed sites," said Mike Jahadi, manager of the CAD/CAM Integration & Strategic Planning. "STEP is a fundamental part of our strategy; it is the great enabler that provides the highest quality data exchange available and allows us to exchange product data with our suppliers and team members on a daily basis."

STEP was implemented in a pilot program in 1996 on the F-16 program. Recently, STEP was adopted for all F-16 production rebid activities. The company plans to implement the standard across all new programs that use computer-aided design (F-22, F-2, T-50, JSF, etc.) and at all sites in the consolidated Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company. STEP is compatible with all major computer-aided design systems.

In a recent major rebid of F-16 machined parts, involving about 2,300 part numbers and about 50 potential suppliers, use of STEP provided a 95 percent reduction in material costs and a 52 percent reduction in labor by the prime contractor, not counting similar savings by the suppliers.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company is a leader in the design, development, systems integration, production and support of advanced military aircraft and related technologies. Its customers include the military services of the United States and allied countries throughout the world. Products include the F-22, F-16, F-117, C-5, C-27J, C-130, P-3, U-2, X-33 and Joint Strike Fighter, among other renowned aircraft.

LM Aeronautics is a unit of Lockheed Martin Corporation , headquartered in Bethesda, Md. Lockheed Martin is a global enterprise principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture and integration of advanced-technology systems, products and services. The corporation's core businesses are systems integration, space, aeronautics and technology services.

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SOURCE: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company

Contact: Mike Nipper of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company,
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