Honda Engineering: Toward the New Era

<< 1. Becoming a World-class Manufacturer
<< 2. Manufacturing Machinery: A Factory Comes to Life
<< 3. Sayama Factory Starts Up: Establishing a System for Car Production
<< 4. The N360 Prepares to Launch
<< 5. The Challenge: New Technologies in Body Production
<< 6. New Model Production: Project Teams in Transition
<< 7. Honda Manufacturing Machinery: A Separate Entity
<< 8. BE:Establishing the Production Preparation System
<< 9. Honda Engineering:Toward the New Era
<< 10. Ensuring Honda'sProduction Competitiveness

The auto industry's race to develop new products was making it tougher on Honda. Therefore, in order to maintain growth the company had to diversify product development and achieve higher levels of productivity and flexibility. Moreover, it would need to direct a corporate effort toward the promotion of its composite functions. Honda had to live its image as a group of professionals.

It was against this backdrop that the Engineering Division was established in March 1973. Together with the engineering groups from Saitama Factory's Wako Plant, BE initially comprised the Production Engineering Department in the Engineering Division. Subsequently, however, with the organizational change implemented that November, the department became independent of the Engineering Division and was thereafter known as the Production Engineering Division .Behind the decision to separate the production engineering function was the corporate realization that in order for the company to grow as a global manufacturer it would have to reinforce its production system for enhanced competitiveness.
Accordingly, it would dramatically step up the development of production technologies.

Honda expanded its operations through KD and joint ventures in 1974, while carrying out its technological assistance on behalf of associated companies overseas. In light of its increasingly global operations, Honda was being asked to reshape the existing organizations into a new group structure. In the area of product development, it was becoming more important to enhance quality and cost-effectiveness, both of which were the keys to global competitiveness. At the same time, it was necessary to develop a more diverse lineup of models. This meant there was an urgent need for enhanced production flexibility at all Honda factories, including the parts suppliers. As Takeo Fujisawa had outlined in his "Ideas of the President," an article published in the Honda Company Newsletter, this was an ideas with which Honda had kept faith ever since it began expanding its motorcycle production. Indeed, the company had gone through numerous efforts in search of a more flexible production approach; one with which it could achive constant, full-capacity operations.

Honda, being a manufacturer of motorcycles, automobiles, and power products, thus confronted the immediate need to build a production structure that would allow it to respond to market changes. Since the market was fast becoming a global one, the compamy was in for the fight of its life.

Under such circumstances, Honda decided it would consolidate preproduction functions with regard to production engineering. Accordingly, Honda Engineering Co.,Ltd.(EG)was established on July 1, 1974,as a combined body of Honda Manufacturing Machinery and the Production Engineering Division. The following three items were thus established as key goals in EG's endeavor:

[1]Anticipate changes in the surrounding conditions, as well as corporate needs. Develop appropriate production technologies and methods in order to facilitate newproduct developments and improvements in the company's production structure.

[2]Provide the production departments with highly competitive and timely methods, as part of a labor-saving investment to produce new models, construct new plants for KD and joint ventures or implement structural reforms at associated factories, and to ensure that goals for quality, quantity and cost are attained.

[3]Companies engaging in production and sales now face global competition. Therefore, it is essential that these companies maintain sophisticated production methods. EG will direct its effort to, and accumulate expertise in, the development of production techonologies to meet this need, and by doing so, will fulfill its responsibilities on behalf of the entire Honda group.

A new system was also established to divide various functions affecting the entire Honda group, and in that system, specific functions were laid out. Honda R&D would develop appealing new products, and EG would develop the appropriate production methods to make production feasible. Honda Motor would then ensure efficient production and sales operations.
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