Although Honda Motor Co.'s newest assembly plant in Yorii took seven years from conception to start of operations, it prides itself as a factory that takes car production into a whole new level. The Yorii site, located at Honda's Saitama assembly complex, provides a glimpse of Honda's next-generation manufacturing technologies which should soon arrive in plants overseas.
The Yorii site boasts of being able to build 250,000 vehicles annually and specializes in small cars based on the Fit platform. It builds the new-generation Fit hatchback and later a Fit-based compact crossover. According to plant manager Takehiro Kono, the site cuts 30 percent off assembly costs compared with the older Sayama plant nearby.
Just how efficient is the new site? Its stamping efficiency jumped 40 percent thanks to a high-speed press and a high-speed die-swapping machine while its energy consumption in the paint shop fell 40 percent. The site's production engineers also trimmed the number of processes on the assembly line by 9 percent, resulting to faster final assembly at 40 minutes earlier.
Likewise, the Yorii site boasts of taking automation to the next level. For instance, only two robots are needed for tire mounting, compared to four at Sayama. Likewise, automation was introduced to glass attachment, interior panel installation, seat mounting and door fitting.
The general welding station at the Yorii site has 10 robots welding 126 points, compared to 16 robots welding 94 points at a typical Honda plant -- resulting to a double operational efficiency. Likewise, Yorii is also the first Honda plant to have an indoor test course that allows vehicle testing no matter what the weather is.