[Discovered this unpublished draft from last September]
Fortune: A Big Maker of Tiny Batches about Rockwell-Collins' operations:
The virtual factory has had an unexpected effect on productivity. When a product arrives from another plant, it gets a fresh look. Besides a natural attitude of "anything they can do, we can do better," there's no existing team to be upset if positions are eliminated. In 1999, production of a radio control device used in business jets was shifted from Melbourne, where the line had 49 people, to Decorah, Iowa, which cut the number to 36 and later to 31. Last year the device went back to Melbourne. It reduced the cell to 26 people.
This May 2002 article starts with a perfect example of what continuous improvement and / or contstraint thinking can do, when given the power to make changes. A manufacturing line that takes 60 hours is analyzed to discover that actual working time is 111 minutes (less than two hours!).
It goes on to talk about the move to virtual factories, where they move production to any available facility, rather than ramping production (and people) at fixed locations. They record CD's of current operations to transfer knowledge to the facilities. Not only does this give them much quicker startup time, but they have also found the benefits mentioned above. It would be interesting to hear more about the knowledge transfer they are doing with their virtual factory.