Factory Of The Future

Factory Of The Future

Get a glimpse now of manufacturing tomorrow.

In Decatur County, Ind., a factory of the future is now in the works.

American Honda Motor Co. Inc. is building a $550 million automobile manufacturing plant on 1,700 acres of land near Greensburg, 50 miles southeast of Indianapolis. The plant, for which construction was announced in June of last year, is slated to begin mass production of fuel-efficient, four-cylinder vehicles in the fall of 2008. The plant is expected to have a capacity of 200,000 vehicles and to employ some 2,000 people.

The Decatur County plant, Honda's sixth auto plant and 14th major plant overall in North America, will boost total North American auto production capacity for Honda to 1.6 million units, expand Honda's total North American employment to more than 37,000 people and increase North American capital investment to more than $9 billion, according to the company.

Honda says the new plant in Indiana will have the same type of New Manufacturing System that Honda has employed in its other U.S. and Canadian auto plants. The hallmark of the system is flexibility, which allows the automaker to produce different models quickly and efficiently. The major processes to be performed at the Decatur plant include stamping, welding, painting, plastic injection molding and assembly.

One of Honda's goals is to make the Indiana plant a "zero waste to landfill" factory, using advanced methods of energy and emission reduction. "Our goal to the environment is not based just on regulations or testing standards," said Akio Hamada, president of Honda of America Manufacturing Inc. and head of Honda's manufacturing operations in North America, when plans for the Indiana plant were announced last June. "Our goal is that this plant in Indiana will have the smallest environmental footprint of any Honda auto plant in North America."

"Honda's success in America has been based on our strong commitment to our customers," added Koichi Kondo, president of American Honda Motor Co. Inc and COO of Honda's North America Region operations. "We believe the great state of Indiana has what we need to continue this success -- an outstanding community of people, excellent transportation systems and the necessary infrastructure to support industry. It is an ideal location in the Midwest both for our network of parts suppliers and as a central location for all our customers across the country."

This spiral conveyor belt is part of Dell Inc.'s state-of-the-art 750,000-square-foot manufacturing plant near Winston-Salem, N.C.
Meanwhile, this past year Dell Inc. was touting the accomplishments of a world-class factory of the future that opened in October 2005 near Winston-Salem, N.C. The 750,000-square-foot plant can produce one computer every 2.5 seconds -- and produced its 1 millionth computer in May 2006.

In May 2006, the plant also exceeded its first-year hiring goal of 750 people. More than 1,000 had been hired.

The North Carolina plant, which cost more than $100 million, includes a production layout that allows computers to be tested as its components and software are installed. This "instantaneous build-and-test" operation allows employees to identify and correct any problems immediately, rather than waiting until the product is completed, according to Dell.

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