WICHITA-Aerostructures supplier Spirit AeroSystems is turning an empty field north of its south Wichita plant into a state-of-the-art Global Digital Logistics Center to increase parts storage and efficiency as production grows.
Construction on the 150,000 sq. ft., 70-ft.-tall facility is expected to be completed in early 2019.
The facility will consolidate about 500,000 sq. ft. of space spread across three logistics buildings into one center by taking advantage of the new building’s vertical space and state-of-the-art equipment, the company says.
Spirit fabricates about 38,000 unique parts a day at the Wichita site and sources more than 100,000 unique parts from suppliers.
The new center will be four times more efficient than Spirit’s current system, including an improvement in inventory and picking accuracy, a decrease in flow time and an increase in storage capacity, it said.
“The Global Digitial Logistics Center supports our strategy to improve production flow time by more accurately managing inventory and ensuring the right parts are at the right place at the right time,” said Spirit AeroSystems President and CEO Tom Gentile. “As we increase production rates and expand our operations in defense and fabrication, we will improve and expand our capacity to rapidly build complex aerostructures for high-rate production programs at a competitive cost.”
The $10 million facility will be automated, use a smart storage and retrieval system and include racks that are nearly 70 ft. tall, Spirit said.
Spirit will be able to use the space freed up by consolidation to bring in raw materials from the mills and cut them for use by area suppliers, which will help suppliers save money, Gentile said.
The project is part of a plan, announced in December 2017, to add 1,000 jobs and invest $1 billion at its headquarters based in Wichita to meet increasing demand for Boeing and Airbus airliners and defense work.
Boeing is increasing 737 production rates from 52 this year to 57 next year. Spirit builds the fuselage of the 737 and parts of every Boeing aircraft at the Wichita site.
In December, Gentile said Spirit planned to add 800 employees by the end of 2018 and 200 more in 2019. But the company will likely hire more than 1,300 employees this year, he said on May 21.
The new facility is a project forged in collaboration with the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County, the company said.
Spirit also benefitted from tax reform, which reduced its tax rate from 32% to 21%, representing about a $75 million savings, Gentile said. The company plans to reinvest that in research and development and to help fund the new Logistics Center and other projects.