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Honda UK increases output thanks to Daifuku process improvements

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Materials handling company Daifuku says it has helped Honda achieve a 30% increase in output at its Swindon plant in the UK through enhancements to the existing logistics processes at the facility.

Completed during a series of shutdown periods over the past six months, Daifuku was tasked with increasing daily production from 640 to 790 units.

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, according to the Japanese company.

In 2016, Honda confirmed its Swindon site as the global production hub for the all-new Civic. It has since invested a further £200m ($264m) in the plant, which now employs more than 3,500 people.

A lot of the conveyors, lifts and other lineside logistics equipment inside the Swindon plant have been there for 20 years and are reported to be working  reliably and safely.

Paul Mack, project engineer at Daifuku said: “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 significant increase in lineside efficiency was achieved 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,” 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.

Other improvements included triple decking vehicles exiting the paint shop, the creation of more workstations at strategic locations and changing the structure of the line to accommodate the introduction of kitting and complete units.