The delay in Boeing’s “787 Dreamliner project” has been widely reported. Now an article in The Seattle Times has given rise to speculation about a link between Boeing’s problems and the units of measurement used in the US.
Dominic Gates, in an article in the Seattle Times on 1 November 2007, commented on the reasons given by the company for the six month delay on the 787 project. However, the US “Go Metric!” Forum took issue with both Mr Gates and Boeing’s management, suggesting that some of the problems could have been caused by the use of “cumbersome old units” http://gometric.us/jforum/posts/list/108.page
Others have joined in the discussion. Pat Naughtin, who was guest speaker at UKMA’s Annual Conference in July, has written to The Seattle Times. He points out how metrication of the motor vehicle industry worldwide has simplified the creation of the international supply chain, instancing production of components for Ford in his home town of Geelong in Australia. Pat’s thoughts on the costs of non-metrication are set out on his web site: http://www.metricationmatters.com/articles.
Should the problems at Boeing concern us in the UK? Possibly not. Although there are UK businesses which are sub-contractors for “pound-inch” aerospace companies in North America, the UK also has a major stake in the Airbus project, the metric rival to the 787. Nevertheless, Boeing must now reconcile the high costs of production at home with the difficulties it has discovered of moving production abroad. The outcome will certainly be of interest, if not concern, to us in the UK.