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

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • -Nate -Nate on May 07, 2016

    " 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

  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on May 07, 2016

    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.

    • Wsn Wsn on May 07, 2016

      I agree. I would put it this way, jobs just can't be "protected" in the long term. They need to be earned.

  • Laserwizard Laserwizard on May 09, 2016

    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.

  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on May 09, 2016

    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.