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Thousands of associates returned to work at Honda’s car plant in Swindon this morning, as the factory prepares to restart production of Civic and CR-V models for Europe. Production at Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM) was suspended for four months foll

Thousands of Associates return to work at refreshed factory

  • New equipment installed to build cars more efficiently
  • Entire plant rejuvenated with major maintenance carried out

Thousands of associates returned to work at Honda’s car plant in Swindon this morning, as the factory prepares to restart production of Civic and CR-V models for Europe.

Production at Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM) was suspended for four months following a drop in demand for new cars due to the economic downturn. During that time, Honda took the opportunity to rejuvenate and regenerate the plant, so Associates have returned today to ‘like new’ facilities.

The non-production period also gave Honda the chance to test new tools and prepare equipment for building the Jazz – Honda’s small family car – which starts at the factory this autumn. New, faster and more efficient machinery has also been installed, which will help to secure the long-term future of the plant.


  • Major maintenance of machinery and equipment.
  • Stripping and rebuilding of Assembly lines.
  • Cleaning and redecorating throughout all plant buildings.
  • Associates have helped with the refurbishment, including those with specialist skills being used for plumbing and to tile restrooms etc.
  • Common and public areas were painted and decorated by Associates from administrative roles.

Line 1 Paint: We installed leading edge technology which will provide greater flexibility, improve quality and overall efficiency. Specifically, all internal and external spraying will become automated. The new process results in less paint wastage, so we’re contributing less paint sludge to landfill.

Paint – Pre-Treatment: The Electro-Coat process has been completely changed to a new ‘Ro-dip’ system, which will rotate the car body rather than dipping. By doing this more dirt is removed from the process, adding to a smoother finished quality. The process is shorter and more compact, with less tank space and therefore uses less energy and is more cost effective.

Press: New B Line Press is being installed into the Press facility, which increases speed and capacity – particularly for larger panels – which gives us increased model type options and gives us the ability to produce more parts in-house, as well as the ability to try new models.

Weld, Line 1: New robot cells have been installed, improving cycle time and reliability.

New tooling, equipment and processes for the production of Jazz later in the year have been introduced in all areas within car plant 2.

The non-production period allowed us to begin a new Process and Leadership training programme with our team leaders and other managers, which aims to strengthen the core values of HUM including:

  • Motivational skills
  • Empowerment
  • Problem analysis and solving
  • Ergonomics
  • Planning
  • Respect and confidence
  • Face to Face communication

Honda of the UK Manufacturing Ltd. (HUM)
The non-production period – Timeline

21 November, 2008: Faced with a drop in demand due to the economic downturn, Honda announces a plan to adjust car production at HUM, to be achieved by suspending all production in February and March, 2009. Total automobile production in the UK plant in the financial year – originally announced as 228,000 – is adjusted to 175,000 units.

1 December, 2008: An Associate Release Programme is introduced, which offers an incentive package to those associates who choose to leave HUM. The requirement was to retain highly skilled, experienced and committed associates for future growth and therefore no redundancies. Associate Release Programme allowed every associate to make an individual choice as to whether they wished to stay or leave HUM respecting each personal decision. Action was essential to help safeguard future employment.

1 January 2009: New working practices agreed – flexible working arrangements and ‘demand-led’ scheduling. This means longer hours are worked when demand is high and shorter hours when demand is low, with associates earning a consistent monthly salary. New Shift Patterns announced.

16 January 2009: Following the continued fall in consumer confidence and subsequent lack of demand for new cars, Honda plans a further 35 non-production days during the months of April and May. Associates are paid full basic pay during February and March, and 50 per cent during April and May, averaging over 85 per cent during the four month period due to scheduled holidays.

30 January 2009: Production ends at HUM for four months. All production lines are cleared and stock shipped. Honda announces intention to freeze pay levels from April (normal salary review effective date) and continue all Associate benefits during February, March, April and May, including lease cars, private medical care and pension.

2 February 2009 – 22 May 2009: ‘Change is a chance’ programme begins to maximise opportunities during the non-production period. HUM undergoes major rejuvenation programme. The aim is to conduct activity not possible during production. Major renovation and refurbishment of all manufacturing processes and equipment takes place. Work continues on building and set-up of new Paint and Press facilities.

February - May 2009: Major 10 day Process and Leadership Training Programme for 350 Production Managers including all Team Leaders, strengthening the core values of HUM including empowerment and motivational skills.

31 March 2009: Associate Release Programme closes. 1,300 associates choose to leave HUM. Total number of associates who remain at HUM is 3,400.

12 May 2009: HUM agrees to introduce a temporary pay cut for 10 months, from June 2009 to March 2010 with its Associate Representative Council – an internal negotiation forum. The pay cut equates to approximately three per cent of basic pay for the majority of associates, and five per cent for managers. In conjunction with several other measures, this will allow extra manpower costs to be funded for the financial year.

18 May 2009: Press Department begins production making panels for production re-start.

22 May 2009: Weld Department will begin production – start to refill production lines.

1 June 2009: Production associates return to HUM and start two days of process training.

3 June 2009: Main Assembly Lines will start production.

HUM – Key facts
Honda investment to date: £1.38 billion
Cars built: Civic 5-door, Type S, Type R, CR-V (Jazz to be built from autumn)
Number of associates: 3,400
Total non-production days February to end May, 2009: 50
Revised production figure for 2009/10 fiscal year: 112,857
Established: 1985
Size of site: 370 acres (1.5million sq m)
Building area: 143,000 sq m
Markets: 60 countries throughout Europe, plus Middle East, Africa, Australia
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