M’c Roy Autospace – Case Study

McRoy Aerospace was a highly profitable company building cargo planes

and refueling tankers for the armed forces. It had been doing this for more

than fifty years and was highly successful. But because of a downturn in

the government’s spending on these types of planes, McRoy decided to

enter the commercial aviation aircraft business, specifically wide-body

planes that would seat up to 400 passengers, and compete head on with

Boeing and Airbus Industries.

During the design phase, McRoy found that the majority of the commercial airlines would consider purchasing its plane provided that the

costs were lower than the other aircraft manufacturers. While the actual

purchase price of the plane was a consideration for the buyers, the greater

interest was in the life-cycle cost of maintaining the operational readiness

of the aircraft, specifically the maintenance costs.

Operations and support costs were a considerable expense and

maintenance requirements were regulated by the government for safety

reasons. The airlines make money when the planes are in the air rather

than sitting in a maintenance hangar. Each maintenance depot maintained

an inventory of spare parts so that, if a part did not function properly, the

part could be removed and replaced with a new part. The damaged part

would be sent to the manufacturer for repairs or replacement. Inventory

costs could be significant but were considered a necessary expense to

keep the planes flying.

One of the issues facing McRoy was the mechanisms for the eight doors

on the aircraft. Each pair of doors had their own mechanisms which

appeared to be restricted by their location in the plane. If McRoy could

come up with a single design mechanism for all four pairs of doors, it

would significantly lower the inventory costs for the airlines as well as the

necessity to train mechanics on one set of mechanisms rather than four.

On the cargo planes and refueling tankers, each pair of doors had a unique

mechanism. For commercial aircrafts, finding one design for all doors

would be challenging.

Mark Wilson, One of the department managers at McRoy’s design center,

assigned Jack, the best person he could think of to work on this extremely

challenging project. If anyone could accomplish it, it was Jack. If Jack

could not do it, Mark sincerely believed it could not be done.

The successful completion of this project would be seen as a value-added

opportunity for McRoy’s customers and could make a tremendous

difference from a cost and efficiency standpoint. McRoy would be seen as

an industry leader in life-cycle costing, and this could make the difference

in getting buyers to purchase commercial planes from McRoy Aerospace.

The project was to design an opening/closing mechanism that was the

same for all of the doors. Until now, each door could have a different set

of open/close mechanisms, which made the design, manufacturing,

maintenance, and installation processes more complex, cumbersome, and

costly.

Without a doubt, Jack was the best—and probably the only—person to

make this happen even though the equipment engineers and designers all

agreed that it could not be done. Mark put all of his cards on the table

when he presented the challenge to Jack. He told him wholeheartedly that

his only hope was for Jack to take on this project and explore it from

every possible, out-of-the-box angle he could think of. But Jack said rightoff the bat that this may not be possible. Mark was not happy hearing Jack

say this right away, but he knew Jack would do his best.

Jack spent two months looking at the problem and simply could not come

up with the solution needed. Jack decided to inform Mark that a solution

was not possible. Both Jack and Mark were disappointed that a solution

could not be found.

“I know you’re the best, Jack,” stated Mark. “I can’t imagine anyone else

even coming close to solving this critical problem. I know you put forth

your best effort and the problem was just too much of a challenge. Thanks

for trying. But if I had to choose one of your co-workers to take another

look at this project, who might have even half a chance of making it

happen? Who would you suggest? I just want to make sure that we have

left no stone unturned,” he said rather glumly.

Mark’s words caught Jack by surprise. Jack thought for a moment and you

could practically see the wheels turning in his mind. Was Jack thinking

about who could take this project on and waste more time trying to find a

solution? No, Jack’s wheels were turning on the subject of the challenging

problem itself. A glimmer of an idea whisked through his brain and he

said, “Can you give me a few days to think about some things, Mark?” he

asked pensively.

Mark had to keepMark had to keep the little glimmer of a smile from erupting full force on

his face. “Sure, Jack,” he said. “Like I said before, if anyone can do it, it’s

you. Take all the time you need.”

A few weeks later, the problem was solved and Jack’s reputation rose to

even higher heights than before.

Questions:

4. What should Mark have done if Jack still was not able to resolve the

problem?

5. Would it make sense for Mark to assign this problem to someone else

now, after Jack could not solve the problem the second time around?

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