Aggressively ensuring quality in both design and manufacturing
Working in partnership with suppliers, Honda is involved in a companywide effort to deliver products with a new level of enhanced quality.
To ensure high quality, Honda conducts aggressive quality assurance activities from the dual perspectives of design and manufacturing. For example, drawings for objects being machined include finished dimensions. Even when the same worker uses the same materials, equipment, and procedures to produce an item to the dimensions specified on the relevant drawing as part of a given production process, there are inevitably small variations in the item's finished dimensions. To address this fact, R&D departments go beyond considerations of function and performance to design drawings to yield maximum ease of manufacture and limit process variability. For their part, production departments implement manufacturing control to keep variability within applicable standards based on drawings and to develop production processes so that all workers can continue to achieve a consistent level of quality.
In this way, we implement quality assurance from the dual perspectives of design and manufacturing in order to improve customer satisfaction.
1. Assuring quality through drawings
Honda's R&D departments create drawings for maximum ease of manufacture in order to limit process variability and prevent human error during the manufacturing process. These drawings serve as the basis of our quality assurance efforts.
Specifically, engineers utilize a database of measures and techniques for preventing past market quality issues and other information as they communicate closely with manufacturing departments during the initial development stage. Product function, performance, and quality assurance concepts are committed to writing and shared to coordinate efforts with production departments' process assurance activities and to coordinate quality assurance concepts.
2. Assuring quality through production processes
Honda's production departments establish manufacturing control items and standards for each part, process, and work task based on designers' intentions in order to prevent product quality issues. Engineers then use these manufacturing control items and standards to verify manufacturing variability as they work to prevent quality issues. Furthermore, Honda develops processes that limit variability by soliciting suggestions for enhancement from the sites where work is actually performed and determining manufacturing control methods for each process.
3. Assuring part quality through supplier audits
Assuring the quality of procured parts is an important element in delivering high-quality products.
Honda visits its suppliers' manufacturing facilities to conduct quality audits based on the "Three Reality Principle," which emphasizes "going to the actual place," "knowing the actual situation," and "being realistic."
These audit activities are conducted for both the production preparation and mass-production stages of supplier operations. Experts in the development and production of individual parts visit manufacturing facilities and conduct audits of suppliers' quality systems and their implementation.
Honda then works to improve part quality through activities that emphasize communication with suppliers, for example by sharing audit results and cooperating to discover measures for improving quality.
4. Assuring long-term reliability through aggressive durability testing
Honda subjects new and redesigned models to a rigorous regimen of long-distance durability testing before beginning mass production in order to verify that no quality issues exist.
We also disassemble vehicles used in the test drives one part at a time and verify that there are no quality issues through a process consisting of several thousand checks. By accumulating data on the issues discovered through these test drives and detailed inspections as well as associated countermeasures, we are able to ensure a high level of quality and function reliability.
5. Using second-generation line end testers (LETs) to inspect electronic control systems
Use of electronic control systems in vehicles has grown dramatically in recent years as part of an effort to achieve more environmentally friendly designs and improve driver and passenger convenience and comfort, creating a need for efficient inspection methods to assure the quality of these components.
To this end, Honda has installed line end testers (LETs), an inspection and diagnostic system developed in-house, at production plants in Japan and overseas.
Although the LET was initially deployed to perform diagnostics of emissions purification systems and parts in order to comply with U.S. emissions regulations, Honda extended the capabilities of the second generation of the device to accommodate the recent evolution of electronic control systems, allowing its use in shipping quality inspections of all electronic control systems, from switches and instruments to air conditioner, audio, engine, and transmission operation. Thanks to these innovations, inspections that have traditionally depended on the human senses of smell, sight, and hearing can now be performed quantitatively by means of communications with electronic control components, dramatically increasing the precision and efficiency with which inspections can be conducted.
Honda is continuing to quantify shipping quality assurance for electronic control systems by working to implement further enhancements in the precision and efficiency of sensory inspections.