Compared to design, development, and manufacturing,purchasing operations at an automaker may be difficult to understand. But once it is understood that the tens of thousands of parts in Honda automobiles are procured by Honda Purchasing Operations, the importance of the role played by these divisions within Honda becomes clear.
We asked staff at Purchasing Operations―which supports production activities by procuring materials and parts and also plays an important role in reducing CO₂ emissions from corporate activities and in product life cycles―to speak about their purchasing works and environmental initiatives.
“I will begin with a simple explanation of our purchasing works.Honda produces more than 20 million motorcycles,automobiles and power products each year.With this scale, we are one of the largest mobility companies in the world. Purchasing Operations procure the parts used in these products, conduct quality and cost management, and are also involved in promoting the development of new technologies. And in recent years, efforts related to the environment are becoming increasingly important. Along with Q (quality), C (cost), D (delivery), and D(development), we have added E (the environment) to our supplier evaluations, and we are advancing the procurement of parts that give consideration to the environment,” said Manager Takayuki Onda,
The history of the Purchasing Operations dates back to 1953 when the head office functions were transferred from Hamamatsu to Tokyo. At that time, the Venders Procurement Department was created, including Purchasing Operations. But back then telecommunications and distribution were not yet very developed. It was deemed difficult, using the format of placing orders at the head office with delivery to the factories, to maintain delivery of “specific quantities to specific locations at specific times.” So six months later, in September, the base was moved to inside the Shirako Plant, Saitama Factory. Then in1956 the Venders Procurement Department at headquaters was re-launched with an emphasis on planning, procurement proposals and research, and this developed into the current Purchasing Operations.
Today the Purchasing Operations are located adjacent to Honda R&D Co., Ltd. with bases for automobiles in Tochigi, and for motorcycles and power products in Asaka. “We devise ideas together with the Research and Development Operations right from the initial product development stages, and we also develop parts together with suppliers. For that reason I think it is important that we are located nearby Honda R&D, which is our development base,”said Manager Ryoichi Murakashi.
Honda has also historically placed great value on external partnerships, and procured many components from outside suppliers.
“Honda was originally started as a small motorcycle manufacturer. We have grown this far because right from the beginning, our stance was to cooperate with suppliers and together provide products to customers worldwide. We have collaborated with suppliers ever since the time of our founder Soichiro Honda, so we do not draw great distinctions between inside and outside the company. Moreover, the range of works is broader than that at other companies because we procure materials and parts for motorcycles, automobiles and power products,” Onda says.
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