Honda is now able to produce a new car every 85 seconds after deploying a continuously moving, inverted monorail conveyor for the dashboard sub assembly line at its UK manufacturing plant in Swindon.
The CI Logistics conveyor is designed to transport Honda Civic dashboards around a 20 station assembly line in Car Plant 2.
It is an enclosed track, equally pitched towline conveyor, constructed to pull the 20 individual trolleys carrying the dashboards around the assembly line and runs at a speed ranging from 700mm to 1,700mm per minute.
More than 3,500 people work at the manufacturing site. During each shift 300 cars are built, which are destined for the UK, mainland Europe and Russia.
Neil Adams, one of Honda’s new model project engineers, says the new system was a necessity because “the dashboard of our new Honda Civic model uses the latest technology so we needed more work stations and therefore a longer assembly line to be able to build it.”
The company originally had a ten station conveyor to build the old dashboard, but with the extra processes involved on the new model it needed to double that to 20 stations.
CI Logistics recommended a conveyor built around a 42m loop constructed from a proven design, which was particularly suitable for the automobile industry.
Adams says: “Although I had considered a friction drive conveyor, the one we selected from CI is a predominantly electronic, chain driven conveyor. Being robust, the conveyor requires low maintenance which is important for long-term cost efficiency. The conveyor is also future model proofed – to assemble a different dashboard we only need to redesign the jig to fit a new model.”
Honda had a tight installation timescale of just four days to take out the old conveyor and install the new one.
Work started as soon as production finished on Thursday and was completed in time for the Tuesday morning shift.
CI Logistics also developed the software controls for the system. Adams concludes: “Software reliability is particularly important as the controls for each sub assembly line link into Honda’s main assembly line software.
“Every assembly line is sequenced so as each finished dashboard comes off the line it is immediately transferred across a short gangway to the main assembly line. Here it is fitted into a car body which is exactly in position to receive the dashboard. Working in this systematic way, a new Honda car is produced every 85 seconds.”