Vought – One of the World’s Largest Autoclaves

Q: Gregg, you’ve been with the firm for 17 years and you’ve had the unique opportunity to be involved as an architect or Quality Control POC on almost all of our manufacturing projects. Have you noticed any significant changes in manufacturing over your career?

A: We’ve seen a dramatic shift from a labor driven industry to a market driven by automation and advanced technology. The manufacturing industry is rapidly adapting technologies such as robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence to better support production efforts. Combined with advanced materials, manufacturers are seeing increased productivity and significant cost savings year to year.

One such example is Boeing’s 777X Composite Wing Center. With the introduction of carbon fiber into the wing design, Boeing is able to produce a jet airliner that’s lighter and more fuel efficient than the original design, leading to significant cost-savings year to year.

Q: What is your favorite part about working on manufacturing projects?

A: I enjoy the opportunity to engage the curiosity I have for how things work, as the manufacturing industry provides ample opportunity to “roll up my sleeves and get under the hood” of a project. The differentiator for manufacturing compared to other industries is that it adds part, process and product to the daily flow of job duties. I feel as though negotiating the intricacies of this gives me a strong sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

Q: What does the future of manufacturing hold?

A: We’re seeing China building a stronger and stronger presence as an emerging market and they’re beating the United States on productivity. The sheer volume of manpower China has at its disposal has led to an industrial boom. In addition to their production capabilities, China is steadily building a strong consumer class.

Despite this, the United States is already ahead on technology. While China is surging with production capabilities, we may see this begin to plateau and even taper off. The advanced technologies the U.S. has should tip the scales back in our direction as a direct result of the infrastructure we’re laying down every day in the fields of robotics, machine learning and AI.

From here, we’ll see further transition into a more “service-oriented” industry, where people are no longer necessarily building the product but maintaining the robotics and technology that is responsible for the heavy lifting.

China is in the middle of a huge growth phase, which involves the creation of manufacturing processes to respond to the demands of their consumers. This creates a wide array of production lines over time and these may not always remain efficient or profitable.

The United States has been responding to this in our own market as we consolidate past and existing production lines across the country. As a result, BRPH and other engineering services firms are finding that more and more projects aren’t always revolving around building new factories but, instead, finding ways to consolidate existing lines of production to maximize efficiency for the client.

Q: You are an Accredited LEED Professional and a Lean expert – what are your thoughts on Lean Manufacturing and how AEC firms like BRPH can help optimize these facilities moving forward?

A: Creating LEED certified buildings has a strong impact on environmental stewardship, but the benefits don’t stop there. There is a tangible benefit to our clients as LEED systems improve the work environment for their employees. For example, the implementation of skylights to factories cuts lighting demands and leads to cost savings, and it leads to happier workers.

Lean and manufacturing go hand in hand. The goal of the Lean philosophy is to remove waste to develop a more efficient production line. BRPH brings Lean value to our clients by developing buildings that supplement and improve upon the manufacturing process instead of just housing it.

Members of the BRPH Boeing Team

 

 

Gregg Kirkendall

AIA, MBA, NCARB, LEED AP BD&C, CDT Senior Architect

As Director of Lean Design and Quality, Gregg is responsible for influencing and guiding the firm to further its high standards of excellence for A/E clients. Gregg’s background encompasses over 27 years of architectural design, programming, preparation of contract documents, and construction administration for a wide range of large scale and technically challenging facilities for aviation, aerospace, and government clients.