Civic production costs down 10 percent

General manager lauds Honda's new manufacturing system

Honda's new manufacturing system has given the automaker its most successful launch in its U.S. production history, said John Adams, senior vice president and general manager of Honda of America Manufacturing Inc.

2001 Management Briefing Seminars index
Last year's launch of the redesigned 2001 Civic was Honda's best in the United States, he said. The straight ship rate of the Civic is improved 20 percent over the previous model, while rejects per unit have been reduced 75 percent, he said.

Production costs per unit are also down 10 percent over the previous model, Adams said. He declined to disclose figures.

Speaking Tuesday at the University of Michigan's Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Mich., Adams said the company has been revamping its production operations for the past three years to implement the new system, which "uses similar tooling, similar processes and follows a similar flow" globally, he said.

Honda has "one, global manufacturing concept for each plant and each platform," Adams said.

The improvement in Civic production is largely thanks to global programs, such as engineering-sharing, common tooling and uniform production layouts at Civic assembly plants in Ohio, Japan, England and Canada, Adams said.

The programs brought various efficiencies to production, he said. For example, Honda's general welder jig time has been cut by 55 percent, while accuracy has improved 5 percent. The process brings together the floor comp, side panels and roof at the same time.

Honda's goal in the weld process, Adams said, is to achieve a high level of consistency across product lines by welding as much as possible in a single process.

The system also reduced the number of lost units due to changeover by 65 percent. One of Honda's goals is to shift the production of vehicles from a current model to the model's next generation without stopping the line.

Honda builds all of its vehicles on one of four platforms — Accord, Civic, light truck and minivehicle. The automaker will add a B-segment car in 2002.

Honda's luxury division, Acura, has replaced its Integra sports sedan with a Civic platform-based model called the RSX. The company also plans to build a boxy sport-wagon based on the Civic, called Model X.

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