Jazzing Up Honda UK
Derren Brown is, for me, the World’s greatest illusionist. In his career, he has, played Russian Roulette (and won), predicted the National Lottery numbers live on TV and tricked bookmakers in paying out on bets which hadn’t won. But this problem, I think, would have been beyond him. How do you revive a car plant in a high cost country? The answer? A 4 month break.
The Telegraph reports that after a 4 month break of production, Honda UK is now ready to start work again. The 4 month break in production was a period of correction that the plant needed. Honda managed to save £2 per second in energy costs and conduct training which otherwise Honda couldn’t have done. The closure also saw 1,300 members of staff take redundancy and for the remaining people, a 3% pay cut (5% if you’re in management). Maybe Toyota could take some lessons from Honda on how to revitalise their operations?
But now, after the break in production, Honda UK is ramping up and feeling stronger for it. “We wanted to show Japan and our mother factories that we could do it. It’s been pretty successful from that point of view,” said Grant McPherson, Director of Manufacturing for Honda UK. “The buzz at the factory is now palpable.”. However, some detractors have questioned whether volume manufacturing has a future in the UK. But Honda UK have insisted that Honda Japan have made long term commitments to Honda UK with investments of £1.38 billion. Part of that investment is a new car for Honda UK. On Wednesday (06/09/2009), Honda UK will start to manufacture the Honda Jazz for the European market. Another advantage that Honda UK has is the weakness of the Pound and it has been stressed that the Bank of England would like to adopt a weak currency as part of a long term vision to help exports.
It seems that the key to a good, healthy operation revolves around hard work, good planning and a positive attitude from everyone involved. Just ask any illusionist.
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But Cammy, isn't the best selling Toyota brand manufactured by the joint venture in Czech? What I believe is that the British should take patriotism classes. "we'll buy anything manufactured whithn our soils." and that is why Companies build plants in the "Expensive" country. Just my 1cent
Cammy - would the lesson that Toyota have to learn from Honda's UK manufacturing ops be: that they should make 1,300 workers redundant?! Surely the major difference is that Toyota kept it's lines going, didn't fire any workers and could still maintain a reasonable balance between sales and inventory, without having to can the plant for 4 months? I'm pleased for Honda, pleased for the workers in Swindon. But really, the story here is that Big-T kept it all on the road and could make improvements as they went along* (that would need to be qaulified of course!), whereas Honda had to pull in to the layby before they could make good. *I suppose we could say that the thumbs up that Toyota UK have received, is the announcement a couple of months ago that they would get to produce the new Auris Hybrid. That's hardly a signal that it's impossible to profitably manufacture cars in the UK.