Thursday, July 02, 2009

Honda Greensburg Plant Tour

Earlier this month, I had my first opportunity to tour the newly operational Honda plant in Greensburg, Indiana referred as HMIN. After recently touring Toyota Georgetown and Nissan Canton in the past couple of months, I was excited to take a look inside Honda. As you can image, it was an excellent adventure.

All of these plants are extremely similar in design and layout which may not be much of a surprise to some of us. All are crystal clean, highly organized and quite disciplined. Each plant has spacious aisles acting as main arteries supplying material to each station to the heartbeat of pitch.

In the Honda plant, the material along the assembly line is designated into three categories: working cart, full cart and empty cart. The working cart contains the parts currently being used and the cart is designated by blue corner tabs on the floor. The full cart contains the parts next in line for use and marked with green corner floor tabs. The empty cart is well just that, an empty cart. These parts were just consumed on the line and the cart is moved into the red corner tabs location on the floor.

All the material is delivered on carts and individually segregated by use of foam, cardboard slots or trays. Forklifts are restricted to the dock area and tugger carts deliver the material line side.
Each workstation had a posted sheet with the workstation layout of material showing part flow. Also included on these sheets are three contact names and numbers in case there are materials problems. Quite interesting is that there no other posted instructions line side…no standard work charts, no job instructions. I was told that these documents are kept in a notebook at the team coordinator line side station and standard work is audited every station, every day by the team coordinator.

Honda does practice it’s version of built in quality as part of each team member’s standard work. In short, these steps were posted on several team boards.

Step 1: Parts confirmation (confirm you have the correct part and confirm quality of part).
Step 2: Perform Process (follow all quality points to operational standard).
Step 3: Confirm quality to ship (check your own work visually, or by touch and feel).
Step 4: Prepare for next unit and abnormalities (prep parts and put abnormal parts on straggler cart).

Part of the culture at Honda Motors Indiana (HMIN) includes ALL employees wearing the same white uniform and green Honda ball cap. No one has their own private office, instead all desks are grouped in large rooms. Interestingly, every desk was completely void of personal items, paper, etc. When I asked about it, I was told that personal items on the desk are allowed however one of the work rules is to completely clear the tops of desk nightly of everything (except desktop computer monitors). Laptops go into desk drawers along with the personal items. It was strange to see so many desks with nothing on them!

In such a short time, I was only able to get a glimpse of the Honda Way. I hope to develop a deeper understanding each time I get a chance to visit in the future.


Mark Welch said...

Looks like they've standardized their work very thoroughly across facilities, but I imagine they deviate from practices as necessary.

The white suit and green cap, and the desks being cleared at night... I can understand a feeling of being on the same team some of these practices might promote. On the other hand, I wonder how much individuality suffers - how much a person might feel like a cog in a machine vs. a real person. Hard to know... I guess only their people could say.

dmurry said...

I would be interested to see more photos of the plant tour. However, I know they usually restrict cameras in the facility.

I had the opportunity to tour Honda in Marysville Ohio and noticed many of the same things you have mentioned. It was very interesting to see how a high volume facility functioned.

@Mark Welch: The people I worked with in the office environment did not seem to mind the uniforms and minimalistic office approach. They are actually very upfront about all of this culture in their interview process, so it is ingrained from the beginning.