This week, a few people from the Brantford Honda team to the Honda Engine Plant in Alliston! The drive was long, just over 2 hours, but it was a nice one. Once we finally made it, we were so excited to see so many Honda’s in one parking lot. Yes, we see them every day at the dealership, but this time it was different because these ones are all owned and driven by real people, not what we see for sale in our parking lot. It was awesome seeing all makes and years as we walked through the lot toward the door.
Once we got to the door, we had to sign in. Security is really tight to make sure no one just wanders in from the street. That could be especially dangerous if someone walks in without someone to guide them, they could head to a line and get hurt, or not follow the pedestrian rules inside the plant and potentially be injured by a fork lift driver. The main entrance of the showroom was awesome, they had a quad, civic Si and a CR-V in the showroom, almost like a dealership showroom. The entire showroom was white, with red accents, to represent the Honda brand colours and aesthetic. Outside the plant, there is a railway system, ideal for transporting new cars greater distances, whereas trucks come in to deliver cars in more “local” areas.
Our tour guide came to meet us, and brought us into a small classroom. She gave us a short presentation about the Honda Engine Plant and it’s history, and how it has come to be what it is today. At the Plant, they make about 2 cars a minute. In Plant 1, which is where we had our tour, they make civics, producing 820 per day. In Plant 2, they make CR-Vs, producing 870 per day. Plant 2 used to make all larger models, like the Ridgeline, Odyssey, RDX and MDX, but they moved those down to the Alabama plant and stuck with only making the CR-V. The cars made in the plant are in such high demand by Honda Canada, that if they do not meet their daily quota, overtime hours will be done to make up for lost time. The plant is organized in such a way to maximize use of the space, to minimize production costs and the effect on the environment.
Inside Plant 1, the robots are all working together. Each motion that they do is mathematically timed so that on every part of the line, production can work in a good flow. There are so many little details that go into timing everything perfectly, like where the windshields are primed, they make their way down the line and the primer is fully dried by the time the windshield is put onto the car. The robots also have a different song that they sing based on what is going on. So for example, if something was jammed it would have a specific song for that issue. We heard a robot trying to speed up its partner while we were there.
The plant is very clean inside, every employee there wears a white uniform, as that was what Mr. Honda wanted everyone to wear. It also is another symbol for clean, as he always said white means clean. Watching the employees work in their respective positions on the line was also really cool. Each of them
worked together in a flow, almost like a routine. We didn’t get to go into the place where the cars are painted, as the paint can react to anything like perfumes, deodorants, even hairsprays, but we got to see a little bit from afar. They have to make sure that the painting area remains dust-free and other contaminants are kept out so that the paint comes our perfectly smooth without any bubbles or clumps.
Once the cars are finished on the line, they are taken down for final alignments. Headlights are aligned to be pointing at the right height and so on. Once all these tests are done, they are taken to the test track to make sure they pass all qualifications to be safe for the road. Once the cars are signed off on, they no longer belong to the plant and are property of Honda Canada.
The Honda Engine Plant is definitely something we recommend checking out, even if you aren’t into cars at all. It is so cool to see how they are put together and all the little details that go into making them. We would definitely love to go down and visit again!
*all images are taken from online as we weren’t allowed any cameras inside the plant