Enhanced logistics processes have enabled Honda to boost output at its Swindon plant by 30 per cent.
The motor manufacturer has worked with Daifuku on a series of upgrades to increase daily production from 640 to 790 units.
In 2016, Honda confirmed Swindon as the global production hub for the all-new Civic. It has since invested a further £200m in the plant, which now employs more than 3,500 people.
To achieve the 30 per cent increase in productivity, Daifuku engineers focused on three main areas of the line-side logistics process:
* Triple decking vehicles exiting the paint shop – preventing bottlenecks
* Creation of more workstations at various strategic locations – increasing productivity
* Changing the structure of the line to accommodate the introduction of kitting and complete units – improving supply chain efficiencies
In terms of cars rolling off the line, this meant speeding up the production rate by 16 seconds – reducing the time finished vehicles were delivered from 85 seconds, down to 69 seconds.
Paul Mack, project engineer at Daifuku, said: “A lot of the conveyors, lifts and other line side logistics equipment inside the Swindon plant has been there for twenty years, and continues to work reliably and safely. Given their strong environmental ethos, the team at Honda was keen for us to retain as much original equipment as possible, while enabling the sizeable increase in output.”
The increase in line side efficiency was produced by increasing the speed of the chains that transported the vehicles down the line. “Turning up to speed on the chains sounds simple, but we had to consider several key effects of this change – most notably safety. Large metal objects moving within a tightly controlled, highly populated space deserves careful consideration. And that’s exactly what we did,” said Mack.
During the testing phase, bumping of body shells was identified as a potential problem. This issue was overcome by the development of bespoke cushion stoppers for each stop station.
Another small, yet vitally important element of the process that was accelerated to good effect, concerned the drop lifters. Here, high flow, second exhaust units were installed to shave vital seconds off waiting times between vehicle transfers.
Mack said: “Every time we transferred a car from the lifters onto the conveyor, it was taking up to ten seconds for the air cylinders to return to a neutral, safe position. So, by developing a reverse gear for the pumps, we clawed back valuable seconds at every vehicle transfer.”