Over 100 years ago, Henry Ford revolutionized the way companies manufacture their products. By using a moving assembly line, one worker was responsible for completing one or two tasks on a vehicle as it moved down the line. Fords assembly line workers wouldn’t have to keep track of the numerous steps involved in the manufacturing process if they were only responsible for completing one task. This would save time and money while increasing production.
Today, Honda Motor Co. is challenging this age-old concept on their most well-known vehicle, the Honda Civic. By using an “assembly revolution cell” in their Thailand factory, workers now follow the car down the assembly line, rather than stay positioned in just one area. Honda claims this new line is cheaper to install, requires less manpower, and operates more efficiently than the traditional assembly line. In their Thailand factory, assembly line workers are responsible for the work that would normally take five or six people to complete.
Teams of four travel along the U-shaped assembly line, following a vehicle through the assembly process until their portion of the job is complete. They then walk over to another assembly line and complete the same process. By following this new structure, Honda says they are able to boost efficiency by 10 percent over the conventional approach.
Honda has no plans to adapt their older factories to this method but may utilize it as new plants open.
Even a small change in assembly line production can have a big effect on creating a more innovative world around us.