"More for less" -- no manufacturer competing today is above this universal and contradictory call. It is the battle cry of 21st-century manufacturing -- a relentless, unnegotiable demand for more goods at higher quality than ever before, produced at costs far lower than previously imaginable.
In a very practical sense, obeying that "more for less" edict has become a basic requirement for any level of production in just about any industry today.
It is not, however, evenly applied.
For companies like Pratt & Whitney, the market, mixed with an austere spending environment, has exaggerated that demand far beyond that of most other manufacturers.
"Pratt & Whitney is known around the world for quality and dependable engines," said Danny Di Perna, vice president of Module Centers & Operations at Pratt & Whitney. "So it is absolutely fundamental for us to maintain our dependable engine logo."
At the same time, he explained, in this era of austerity and sequestration, the United Technologies Corp. (IW 500/24) aircraft engine maker has been under tremendous pressure from the U.S. government -- one of its biggest clients -- to significantly reduce costs in order to maintain its contracts.
This has put the company in a serious bind: engines like its acclaimed F135, which it produces for the Lockheed Martin (IW 500/30) F-35 jet, by necessity require expensive, precise processes in which there is no room for fault. But to keep its place in the project, the company had to shave millions off the cost of that process.
The solution to that puzzle, Di Perna explained, was to double down on its engineering investments and use that capital to find and develop new techniques to transform its production system into the lean, streamlined system it needed.
In other words, Pratt & Whitney had to innovate.