Honda's Revolutionary Assembly Line Makeover Takes Workers on a Ride
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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