Published on February 2nd, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Honda’s New Plant, Yorri Takes Manufacturing To The Next Level
It is always interesting to see how much different a new car factory will be over another. Processes seldom develop and the production line keeps to the same format. So when the invite came to visit the all new Honda factory in Yorii, Japan, we were eager as information released to us teased of new ideas incorporated in this all new facility.
This new Honda Motor Co assembly plant was seven years in the making and was twice delayed. The Honda Yorii factory is nestled in rolling green hills just north of Tokyo as part of Honda’s Saitama assembly complex. It provides a look at the next-generation manufacturing technologies Honda aims to transfer to its overseas factories (just like the one in Malacca).
The factory, which opened in July 2013 has a possible annual capacity to make 250,000 vehicles. This factory specializes in small cars based on the Fit platform. It bustles with super-efficient machinery that shaves cost and time from Honda’s already lean manufacturing process. The Yorii factory makes the all new generation Honda Fit/Jazz hatchback and will soon produce a Fit-based compact crossover that will go on sale next month in Malaysia and eventually the rest of Asia Pacific.
This Yorri factory manages to reduce some 30 percent off assembly costs, compared with the older Sayama plant which is located very nearby. Some examples of the savings:
• Stamping efficiency improved 40 percent by introducing a high-speed press and a high-speed die-swapping machine.
• Energy consumption in the paint shop dropped 40 percent.
• Production engineers cut the number of processes on the assembly line by 9 percent, thereby shaving the time required for final assembly by 40 minutes, Honda said. The company declined to give the time required before or after the changes.
Automation was taken to the next level. At Yorii, only two robots are needed to mount tires whereas at Sayama, it is four robots. In contrast, additional automation was introduced to a number of processes, including glass attachment, interior panel installation, seat mounting and door fitting. The general welding station at the typical Honda plant, where body panels are joined, has 16 robots welding 94 points. But Yorii’s streamlined welding station has 10 robots welding 126 points doubling the operation’s efficiency. Yorii is also the first Honda plant to get an indoor test course, screening every car coming off the line, rain or shine.