|BE: Establishing the Production Preparation System
Honda debuted its new CVCC engine in February 1971, using an innovative low emissions technology as a springboard into the global spotlight. In those days, growing public concern with regard to safety and air pollution had forced automobile manufacturers to look beyond high performance and quality. To survive, it would be essential to provide a diverse line of cars designed to meet the needs of individual consumers.
Amid all this, Sayama Factory implemented an organizational change in September of the same year. The factorys Second Plant (the former Third Plant renamed after the Honda Manufacturing Machinery spin-off) transferred to the First Plant its mass-production functions for plastics work such as stamping, molding and casting. It then integrated its pre-production functionsprimarily molding, design, and die productionwith PG (which had successfully completed the Life launch) and restarted it as the Body Engineering Plant, or BE (Body Engineering).
BEs numerous responsibilities included the development of original technologies regarding body-contour reproduction, along with the design and production of dies. Moreover, BE was to collaborate with engineering groups specializing in body production as well as with Honda Manufacturing Machinery, which was responsible for the design and production of welding machines and fixtures (jigs with welding functions). Thus, it was believed that all Honda factories would receive assistance with body production. Therefore, in order to enhance Honda's production structure in all areas of body production, and increase the company's competitiveness, BE took an active role in engineering development. The group even established a system whereby Honda factories could prepare for the production launch of a new model concurrently with product development at Honda R&D. lt was a very close relationship with the factories that established BE as a critical force in production quality.
The system of production preparation established by BE targeted the following requirements:
A shorter lead-time from pre-production through production
Assurance of both productivity and product performance
Fewer initial problems at the start of mass production
Minimized startup costs and losses
Lower per-model investment in production facilities
These rather lofty goals meant that BE would have to work with Honda R&D,and that anticipated engineering problems would have to be settled prior to mass production. The creation of prototypes was one such method.Furthermore, BE collaborated with Honda's production departments in resolving issues arising from inappropriate production structures. The group proposed new systems of production, supplied dies, welding jigs, and machine equipment, and verified in detail whether or not the target requirements were being met.
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