Simultaneous blank punching operation energizes workplace. Aims for newer development
Development of jig that reduces load on both workers and manufacturers on the receiving end
Tests of the actual dies, quality checks and other tests were carried out, which verified that the simultaneous punching process itself was generally problem-free. However, for Mori, there was a final hurdle to go through.
"The problem was: how do we collect the blanks for small parts that were made by simultaneous punching, and in what condition do we hand them over to manufacturing partners. In other words, I had to design a workflow that will, as much as possible, reduce the load for Honda workers as well as for manufacturers on the receiving end. Moreover, the result must not affect the quality. Otherwise, the operation cannot be continuously implemented, as in the past, and all our efforts will be for nothing, so it was essential to meet these requirements," explains Mori.
After considerable thought, Mori addressed this problem by creating a dedicated jig and container. He created a dedicated jig that catches blanks for small parts, which used to fall underneath the machine after punching, and brings them to a dedicated container that can be shipped as-is when filled with blanks. This provided a way to collect blanks without any effort from workers and simply ship them out to manufacturing partners. In addition, the container was tailored to the equipment of manufacturing partners so that after receiving the blanks, they can simply set the container on their machine and start operation.
"The idea was fine in theory, but since the 'jig' had a simple mechanism without any sensors or control devices, we had to create it by trial and error and continuously adjust for the speed of blanks sliding out, the degree of sorting inside the container, and other factors, in order to produce a jig that actually works as designed. It was incredibly tough to reach that ideal point where workers truly did not have to do anything until the container was full," says Mori with laughter.
After all these, the simultaneous blank punching operation was finally finished and ready to be implemented. At last, they only had to wait for actual production of the new N-BOX to start.
Blanking machine conducting simultaneous punching
Setting the special die for simultaneous punching
As the machine starts to operate, blanks for small parts slide out
Setting the dedicated jig on the machine
Container is replaced when full
Production of small parts : map light bracket
Daiso Industries Co., Ltd. in Mie Prefecture manufactures the map light brackets
Blanks supplied by Honda are set on the destack feeder (in front) and processing is started
Processed map light brackets that come out are bundled and packed
Packages are transported back to Honda's Suzuka Factory. Part is installed on the roof section of the N-BOX
Release of all-new N-BOX. Smooth production in stamping work using simultaneous blank punching
The new N-BOX was presented on August 31 and released the next day, September 1, 2017
Kazunori Tabata, Manager, Stamping Dept., Automobile Plant No.1, Suzuka Factory, Production Operations, Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
Production of the new N-BOX began in the middle of 2017. The simultaneous blank punching Mori, Kobayashi and others struggled to achieve worked without a hitch, with smooth uninterrupted production from the start.
Veteran staff Matsuda, who had observed its development in great detail, speaks with deeply felt emotions.
"I myself don't work on the floor anymore, but I'm really grateful that they carried on with the issues we were working on, took it further and made it possible. I'm proud of them."
Kazunori Tabata, who currently manages the stamping floor, says the operation has had an unexpectedly positive effect.
"Workers at the floor are, in a manner of speaking, artisans. Even when they talk of 'unwanted time and effort', they seem to enjoy using their spare time, on their own initiative, to improve the jig Mori made and proudly show how they've made it better. Something about this operation stimulates their professional artisan spirit and energizes the workplace. I think that it has the potential to grow more and more, with such steady input and creativity from the workforce. As we continue with this operation, I am seriously considering the various ways that I can use it to bring about a more dynamic workplace," reveals Tabata.
Mori and Kobayashi also have new ideas for the future development of this operation.
"Before, we were able to find the combination for creating map light brackets with scraps from the door skin based on trial and error. To continue such operations in the future, combinations have to be prepared and incorporated from the car design stage to make sure that simultaneous punching can be done. This will also enable operations to be passed on and used on other car models. And so, we are moving forward with that aim by teaming up with R&D, Honda's development arm," discloses Kobayashi.
Meanwhile, Mori is also exploring new techniques along with expanding the use of simultaneous punching.
"This is a technique called 'composite die.' I want to adopt this method because it can provide even greater energy and resource conservation than simultaneous punching out of blanks," he says.
Simultaneous punching is a technique where two kinds of blanks are punched out in the blanking process and after which the production is carried out in separate processes, while composite die is a technique where all five pressing processes for the two parts are performed simultaneously. That is, two parts are manufactured and come out at the same time from the transfer stamping machine shown previously in this article. Mori and Kobuchi have started preparations for its scheduled use on the machine Kobuchi operates.
Kobuchi says, "Since simultaneous punching operation began, I have naturally become more aware of by-products even outside the blanking area at the stamping floor, and have thought of what we can do in our own work areas. If I can help reduce by-products on my machine using this composite die technique, then I'd really like to try it."
The young generation have carried out the will of senior staff―who once attempted an stamping operation to reduce by-products―by reviving and developing the operation further. This legacy made it possible for many divisions to work together to turn it into a sustainable operation moving forward. The operation had also made the staff more aware of by-product reduction and energized the workplace. Spanning across generations and divisions, the will and spirit of challenge to reduce environmental impact will continue to be a legacy passed on to the next future leaders.