News Releases 2000
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CorporateJapanSeptember 26, 2000
Honda Introduces Its Renovated Auto Production Line at Suzuka

Tokyo, September 26, 2000 - Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today unveiled its redesigned Suzuka No. 1 production line featuring the new technologies and processes being integrated in Honda's global production system. The revamped Suzuka No. 1 line, which went into operation in May, is the model for Honda's new production lines in North America and Great Britain. It incorporates new production technologies that focus on two themes -- increased efficiency and flexibility -- which in turn are linked to two strategic objectives:


1. Faster response to market trends
2. Maintaining the highest standards of Honda quality

Honda's new production system has two additional benefits:

1. It reduces the impact of the production process on the environment.
2. It creates a safer, more pleasant and therefore more productive working environment for Honda associates.

The Suzuka No. 1 line has already been replicated at plants producing the Civic in the United States and Canada, and will be introduced in Great Britain by the end of this year, to coincide with the new Civic's production launch.



Bottom Line Results

The new production equipment and technologies in use on this line have led to the following impressive results, as well as dramatic improvements in the welding, painting, and body assembly processes:

* A 50% reduction in special investment associated with the introduction of new vehicle models, and initial investment required for building a new production line line

* A 30% reduction in production time from the initial process to final vehicle inspection

* An increase in the number of models that can be manufactured on a single line (from five to eight)

* A 20% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from the production process

* Significant improvements in the quality of finished vehicles in areas such as body precision and rigidity (for example, gaps between the body panels and doors have been further reduced for improved fit.)

* Increased productivity through improvements in the working environment


Specific Production Process Improvements

Welding
* Introduction of highly flexible welding equipment that can be used in the production of multiple vehicle models

* Introduction of simple tools for specific applications to reduce special investment necessary for the introduction of new vehicle models

* Use of electric servo guns and electric robots for optimal control to speed up the welding process

* Optimization of the number of weld points for increased body precision

* Employment of general-use pallets to make the body conveyor process compatible with multiple vehicle models


Painting

* Reduction of special investment for the introduction of new vehicle models to zero through employment of simple and general-use conveyor equipment

* Shortening of the overall length of the line through use of more compact pre- processing methods and short ovens

* Reduction of work tasks in the quality verification process through improvements in body washing methods and the introduction of dust vacuum robots

* Use of environment-friendly water-borne paints in both the intermediate and top layers to reduce VOC [volatile organic compounds] emissions volume to 20g/m2 (Honda is the first auto company in Japan to do so.)

* Increased comfort in the working environment through the separation of hot process areas from other working areas.


Body Assembly

* Introduction of more general-use vehicle body conveyor equipment (This has eliminated the need for additional investment associated with the introduction of new vehicle models.)

* Use of sub-lines to minimize variations between vehicle models in the number of processes performed by the main line, thus shortening the main line's overall length

* Reconfiguration of the line to create five process zones [wiring & tubing, interior, chassis, exterior and complex]. Similar assembly processes are located in each zone, so that quality is assured before vehicles move to the next area.

* Reduction in the number of operations that require working in uncomfortable positions.


SUMMARY

By the end of fiscal year 2001 (ending March 2002), Honda will have invested 36 billion yen over a three-year period in new production technology at its two principal automobile production plants in Japan, Suzuka and Sayama.

This investment is part of Honda's commitment to its "green factory" concept, which seeks to fully renovate the production process to meet the needs of 21st century production.

Before the end of this year, these reforms will further improve the quality of finished vehicles at both plants, affecting nearly every production process.

Similar efforts are underway at Honda production facilities overseas, with their introduction at major plants scheduled for completion in 2003.
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