By on May 6, 2016

Honda-ARC-Line-2

Henry Ford’s way of building cars was so 20th Century, so Honda tried something new.

Workers at the automaker’s new Thailand plant now stay in motion all day, moving with the vehicle as it travels down the assembly line, Automotive News reports.

Four-person teams surround the vehicle on a moving platform stocked with parts, with empty containers taken off as the workers complete their tasks. At the end of the U-shaped line, when the vehicle is finished, workers hop off and go to where the ride started, ready to start on a new build on a different platform.

Everything about the new process — which Honda calls the ARC Line — is rooted in the automaker’s pursuit of manufacturing efficiency. Honda says the method boosts line efficiency by 10 percent, and lowers the work load on employees by the same amount. It’s also cheaper to build, because there’s no need to dig pits or install hanging machinery.

Each of the four workers on the ARC Line platform assembles a dedicated quarter of the vehicle, doing the same amount of work as five workers on a conventional assembly line. As Honda states, the line “makes it possible for associates to gain a broader range of production knowledge and skills.”

Right now, the only ARC Line is at the Civic plant in Thailand, but future plants and older ones facing expansion could adopt the new method.

Honda realizes this looks like an attempt to reduce the company’s workforce, insisting that those not hired to assemble would be brought into product development instead.

[Image: Honda Motor Company]

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59 Comments on “Honda’s Revolutionary Assembly Line Makeover Takes Workers on a Ride...”


  • avatar
    Russycle

    ” because there’s no need to dig pits or install hanging machinery.’

    So…how do they work on the lower bits of the car? I assume each car is on a lift of some sort, which can’t be all that cheap. I do like the hardwood floors, very spiffy.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      The cars are on a lift. Any plant that doesn’t have chain and skids from the 1950’s uses the same pedestal style pallets.

      And you’re right. When a pallet goes down, it’s usually easier and cheaper to keep uptime on a chain/skid line. Central drive points, cheap motors, relatively cheap VFD’s, etc.

      If your chain is overhead and load bearing, just make sure your chain is US steel or you’ll be stretching your links out like the blown out chicom/korean steel hooker vagina chain links.

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    It’s totally 20th century. Just like Honda’s ‘ARC,’ – cellular manufacturing.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellular_manufacturing

    This is for lower volume, high variation lines. Honda just made the work cells mobile. Rather than having your material handling ‘crowd’ a cell, you move the cell to the appropriate material handling area. Cellular manufacturing is a work balance that is material handling heavy. So Honda ‘automated’ a lot of the material handling in a way that would still utilize the logistics footprint of a normal assembly line, but capture the labor savings of cellular manufacturing. The upside is less walks (majority of your labor savings), less tool prep and less ‘make the job for the worker.’ The downsides would be making labor hard to balance out, conveyor breakdown and no buffer queues for breakdowns; unless you’d have dead space utilized for rolling breaks.

    Even Honda calls it cell manufacturing:
    http://world.honda.com/news/2016/c160421beng.html
    The press release also says ARC stands for Assembly Revolution Cell. It’s namesake states it’s a mobile cell. Many manufactures have been doing this for a long, long time.

    I introduced cellular manufacturing to an electronics manufacturer and saved a few heads. Most importantly, it gave the workers a job where they could sit down and do the entire build up with a kitted box of parts put together by the same number of material handlers.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “Honda realizes this looks like an attempt to reduce the company’s workforce…”

    That they even have to make this qualification to satisfy the socialists out there is pretty sad. Improved efficiency is always a good thing.
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      In reality, there are plenty of smart, capitalist firms that find it wise to consider employee concerns when introducing new technology. They find that profits increase with an engaged, motivated workforce.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “That they even have to make this qualification to satisfy the socialists out there is pretty sad”

      Yeah, that fifth person doesn’t need a job anyway. He and his family can just go f off and collect unemployment like a good capitalist and stop impacting shareholder profits.

      Our next president is going to be either your avatar or the businessman who proposes to punish CEOs for outsourcing jobs. The next four years is looking to irritating for you, and you already are pretty negative person.

      • 0 avatar
        Master Baiter

        Politics can’t help but be irritating because the country is and will continue to be run by idiots.
        .
        .

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          This. Well said.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            No, it’s trite and obvious. Everyone thinks the country is run by idiots. They’re probably right. What isn’t clear is whether they themselves would do better. I’m guessing most wouldn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The problem is at this stage of the game, we need a Caesar; something which is incredibly dangerous in the nuclear age.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            “Everyone thinks the country is run by idiots. They’re probably right. What isn’t clear is whether they themselves would do better. I’m guessing most wouldn’t.”

            Which is yet another reason to replace the current crop of idiots with those who could do better. Meaning noone.

          • 0 avatar
            kmars2009

            Why is it….every time I look at comments on this site, 85 percent of the remarks revolve around politics?
            This site is about automobiles, not politics.
            Lets try to stay on topic. If you wamt to complain about politics, go elsewhere….like Facebook.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “Why is it….every time I look at comments on this site, 85 percent of the remarks revolve around politics?”

            Because our choices in automobiles are directly driven by…….. American politics and the political agenda of the party in power.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          “Politics can’t help but be irritating because the country is and will continue to be run by idiots.”

          “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.”

          If we take your statement at face value and view Lincoln’s statement as being true, that does not say much for the electorate.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            Lou-BC

            exactly the problem and why the saying..You Get Government You Vote For.
            And in reality why all good government tries all eventually fail. People just learn to work the system. Both the governing and those governed. They all work and rework until the whole experiment fails.

            The only hope we have is the maturing of the human. Times are better. Philosophies and reason have evolved.
            We would always prefer to live now than at any time in the past…give or take a few periods and locations of utopia.

            My fav book these past years is The Better Angels Of Our Nature by, I think, Pinker. It is the book I most recommend to all young people today when they get all depressed and worried about today’s news.

          • 0 avatar
            Master Baiter

            “…view Lincoln’s statement as being true,..”

            If government only did what it did in Lincoln’s time, it wouldn’t matter that we’re governed by idiots. Today our idiot overlords think they’re smart enough to regulate health care, energy, wage rates, mortgages and a whole host of other things where idiocy can do real damage.
            .
            .

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Yeah, America is such a mess today. This longest period of private sector employment growth in history sucks. I hate exiting seemingly endless wars in the mideast. The lack of inflation leaves me nonplussed. I am so over having the greatest military on the planet. These low interest rates just make it too easy to start a business and watch it flourish. And why oh why can’t we go back to segregation and entrenched misogyny?

            Bring back the glory days of Civil War, genocide and starvation from the 1860s!

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            Master Baiter – so you would prefer a complete removal of regulation and completely unfettered open capitalism?

            Please explain how that would be much better for the population of “idiots”?

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            I am so done with these masterbaters who have nothing better to do all day than attack our country and complain about how hard they have it. If you don’t love America, leave her. Otherwise, get a haircut and a real job!

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            @TT

            You’re strictly wrong, as I have never gotten the government I voted for. And neither has anyone else with half a cue or better.

        • 0 avatar
          lot9

          We keep reelecting the same Idiots, and surprised we do not get different results.
          Do something for your country, VOTE THEM ALL OUT!
          I can’t vote yours out and you can’t vote mine out. We have to bite the bullet and vote our career politicians out, over and over till we get results.
          Start voting for individuals instead of parties and parties will have less control over our lives.
          I am fed up with Washington.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        — “Yeah, that fifth person doesn’t need a job anyway. He and his family can just go f off and collect unemployment like a good capitalist and stop impacting shareholder profits.”

        The fifth person should find a different job. If everyone and every family kept their original job, we would all be hunting and farming.

        Knowing the fifth person would be eager to find a job, then a new business may have chance to thrive because of the available hard working and low paying worker.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          There’s some truth to that because economies change. But it is really only as simple as you claim when it isn’t you getting laid off and told glibly to find another line of work.

          Perhaps the corporate brass and shareholders should share some of the burden as well, and consider something other than stuffing their own bulging pocketbooks to the absolute top when making these decisions? Or is regarding your workforce as humans rather than mere expendable assets too socialistic?

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Wonder if the head of Honda has a sleeping bag at the end??????

    I just was reading about those praising Musk for his passion and insistence on learning and introducing new manufacturing procedures to propel auto production into the modern age.
    Well, dude, you not only are somewhat naive with a major learning curve ahead with auto manufacturing, but there are those way out ahead of you getting farther away.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Please name the companies with higher revenues in electric cars than Tesla. I’ll wait here while you compile your list.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Still waiting, TrailerTrash

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        “Higher revenues” means nothing. It’s “higher profit” or “lower loss” that counts. Before Tesla can turn a profit, all scepticism is valid.

        IMO, Toyota is clearly the leader in electric cars. Prius, while being a hybrid, can be viewed as partial electric play. Let’s say, it’s equivalent to 30% of a pure electric car, then multiply its total profit by 30% and compare that to Tesla’s huge loss.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Those Thai workers don’t get a government they voted for.

    Does 1 sick day = 1 1/5th on the mobile cell?

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “Master Baiter – so you would prefer a complete removal of regulation and completely unfettered open capitalism?”

    I’m continually amazed at people’s inability to understand nuance.

    The choice between unfettered, completely unregulated capitalism and today’s nanny state is a false choice. I would prefer a compromise in the direction where government knew its place, as originally defined in the Constitution.

    And no I’m not in favor of bringing back slavery or applying leaches to one’s body to cure disease. This is another false choice the left continually makes: To accept any ” progress” you must accept all of it. So if I accept modern medicine and laws governing food safety, I must also accept safe spaces, micro-agressions, men who identify as women using the lady’s room, and EV subsidies.
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      How often are you impacted in your daily life by “safe spaces, micro-aggressions, men who identify as women using the lady’s room, and EV subsidies”?

      Maybe you should just quit whining and get a real job? Or at least focus on cars if you are going to post here.

      • 0 avatar
        Master Baiter

        “Maybe you should just quit whining and get a real job? ”

        You post here far more than I do. Can I infer you don’t have a real job?

        And my original post quoted the article in question. Everything else I posted was in reply to others who responded to me. If it makes you feel better, I won’t post anymore. It’s really not that big a deal to me.
        .
        .

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Yes. It would make me feel better if you wouldn’t post anymore.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Master Baiter – you are the one that moved the discussion towards politics.

          Since you think the leaders of the USA are idiots and you don’t appear to like socialists but aren’t a supporter of complete libertarian or conservative political ideologies then what kind of leadership do you actually believe will work?

          Or perhaps I should take your blog name as your purpose and go on the premise that you don’t actually have anything relevant or worthwhile to contribute to this blog.

          Up to you.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Jesus, Rosy Palms!

      How do you turn an article about alternative auto assembly lines into baruthian cisgender-signalling?

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Master, I agree with you on the importance of nuance and that political discourse often degrades to false choices.

      But you committed a fallacy of your own by presenting today’s government as the opposite extreme of completely unregulated capitalism. It’s nowhere near that, it falls somewhere between the extremes even if it is farther to one side than you’d personally prefer. That’s a nuance you missed.

      Another is believing that only the left has people in it who insist on accepting all of their political doctrine rather than some of it.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Is everything the fault of our Government? Is Obama and Congress to blame for a Honda assembly plant in Thailand? I doubt Honda asked for US Governmental approval to design and implement this new assembly process. Honda is a well run corporation that makes their decisions based on efficiency and profitability and not on what comments are posted on TTAC. I doubt any manufacturer would pay that much attention to a comments section of a website when it comes to designing their own manufacturing facility. Personally I don’t want tell a manufacturer how to assembly their product, I am more interested in the quality of the final product.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “VoGo

    Yes. It would make me feel better if you wouldn’t post anymore.”

    Done and done. You need not worry about me invading your safe space VoGo.

    Note to the editors: not posting here also means not clicking here. Good luck with your site, which is now permanently deleted from my favorites.

    Buh bye TTAC.
    .
    .

  • avatar
    -Nate

    ” If you don’t love America, leave her. Otherwise, get a haircut and a real job!”.
    .
    Yeah , _THIS_ ! .
    .
    And pull up yer pants whilst you’re getting the hell off my lawn too !.
    .
    =8-) .
    .
    -Nate

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The average Thai worker receives a lower income than the average Chinese worker.

    It seems vehicle assembly is becoming focused on regions where performing basic and repetitive tasks, like vehicle assembly is slowly moving.

    It’s odd that the Chinese and even the Thais are moving in this direction more so than the advanced economies.

    This is what we need to do, reduce labour costs. Then we might be more competitive as manufacturers.

    So, stop trying to protect jobs and let technology and progressive models in.

    This will save jobs in the long run and not off shore them.

  • avatar
    laserwizard

    Can you imagine the reaction of an American UAW worker being required to leave the platform and then to walk (however short the distance) to another car on a platform and to actually climb back onto another platform? ROFL! These clowns will demand a pay raise and will file for work. comp because they pulled a leg muscle in the process.

    I think it is best that we keep our highly paid UAW workers in a stationary area where they don’t have to expend additional energy.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I like how they pass off the “not reducing workforce” by saying the assemblers without jobs will be transferred to product development.

    Like those two jobs are even remotely related to the same job skills and education. Yeah.

    All the cashiers who are subject to reductions by the U-Scan at Kroger will just transfer to corporate accounting instead.

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