The Honda of America motorcycle manufacturing plant in Marysville, OH, implemented a new fixture used in finishing motorcycle fenders. The new fender positioner allows associates to move and lock the fender into positions that work best for them, and requires only two lifts per cycle. The new fixture cut cycle time for the operation by 50 percent and reduced scrap by 83 percent.

It all began in early 2001, when Honda invited Humantech (Ann Arbor, MI) to assist its ergonomics team with ergonomics improvements in the plant. Later that year, Honda of America associates identified the fender-finishing operation in the weld department as a candidate for redesign. The operation involved reaching forward as far as 28 inches, awkward upper body postures, and 24 lifts of a 12-pound part in an average operating cycle. The average cycle time was 30 minutes.

Associates used ergonomic principles to design the new freestanding fixture in two iterations. The new fender positioner is height-adjustable and requires only two lifts—to load and unload the part. It is simple to operate, allowing users to maneuver and lock the part—without lifting—into different positions. Forward reach was reduced to 15 inches, and awkward postures have been eliminated. Associates who once avoided the operation have enthusiastically accepted the new concept.

Jose Banaag, Honda staff engineer with corporate health and safety, credits the associates’ initiative and teamwork. "They recognized that there was a need for a redesign and obtained input from everyone as they developed it," he says. Not only did the new fixture reduce scrap by 83 percent, Honda attributes a $500,000 per year savings to injury avoidance, and improvements in quality and productivity. According to Banaag, the most significant impact on cost has been the 50 percent reduction in cycle time—from 30 minutes to 15 minutes. "This is a critical element in a business environment where people demand more for less," he says.

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