Tuesday 14 May 2013

Honda to make NSX in Ohio

Honda will make the all-new NSX supercar at a new Performance Manufacturing Centre in Ohio, in the US.

The $70 million advanced production facility encompasses 184,000 square feet and will be housed inside Honda's former North American Logistics facility. One interesting possibility is that Honda could use friction-stir welding (FSW) as one of its processes in the plant for the new NSX.

The site, Honda's third car plant in Ohio, is located close to the Honda R&D Americas Inc.’s Ohio Centre and which is engineering the supercar for production. The R&D centre is adjacent to Honda of America Mfg.'s Marysville automotive plant, north-west of Columbus.

The Performance Manufacturing Centre is also close to Honda Engineering North America, Inc., centre for the development of new production technologies.

The Performance Manufacturing Centre will employ approximately 100 highly skilled associates drawn from within Honda's existing operations in Ohio. The powertrain will also be assembled at the Honda of America Manufacturing (HAM) engine plant in Anna, in Shelby County, Ohio - west of Marysville.

The all-new NSX, which will be badged as a Honda in Europe and Acura in the U.S., is being developed by a global R&D team led by designers and engineers at Honda R&D Americas, Inc. located in Los Angeles, California, and Raymond, Ohio. 

Honda also announced that Honda R&D Americas chief engineer Ted Klaus is heading up the global team developing the new NSX, and Clement D' Souza, associate chief engineer at Honda of America, is leading the team that will bring NSX to mass production in 2015.

"This new plant will be as unique as the vehicle we will build here," said D'Souza. "In creating the plan for this plant, we looked closely at each process and determined the perfect blend of associate craftsmanship and technology to adopt a new approach to manufacturing."

The NSX will feature a unique powertrain and body structure to provide an incredible driving experience. It will be powered by a mid-mounted V-6 engine mated to Honda's innovative new Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (Super Handling All Wheel Drive) system. 

"We have a very clear understanding of the high customer expectations luxury buyers around the world have for a supercar, and our challenge is to exceed them and create new value for the customer," said Klaus. "This new Performance Manufacturing Centre will be vital to this challenge."

Once selected, the team of production associates at the Performance Manufacturing Centre will begin training and establishing manufacturing processes that will be used to build the all-new NSX.

                             Friction-stir welding

Automotive body-in-white engineers around the world will be watching with baited breathe to see if Honda adopts friction-stir welding (FSW), first developed in the UK by Wayne Thomas at The Welding Institute and revealed in late 1991.

Honda is using FSW for the production of the 2013 Accord that is built at the Hondas Ohio plant at the rate of 1,500 Accords a day.

Honda’s novel approach is no doubt greatly assisted by Honda Engineering which routinely closely monitors all methods of automotive manufacture and is almost unique in its approach to volume production.

Honda is using FSW to join steel and aluminium – two dissimilar metals. Specifically it is using FSW to make the front sub-frame for the 2013 Accord RLX, the company’s flagship model which went on sale in the US in March of this year.http://world.honda.com/news/2013/4130218New-Technology-Join-Steel-Aluminum/

Even more specifically, Honda has devised a novel solution whereby a standard industrial robot – a Fanuc M-700 with a C-Type FSW gun – is used to generate the friction-stir welding motion under pressure.

Any automotive maker using steel and aluminium in the same BIW structure – Jaguar Cars for example at Castle Bromwich – will no doubt even be now taking a close look at the technology to assess the real benefits.

As an added bonus, Honda’s Ohio plant making the Accords has developed an automatic non-destructive testing (inspection) system to evaluate, by means of a Motorman industrial robot installed in an on-line basis, the integrity of the joint and the sealant which is also applied.

The function of the sealant – which occupies the gap between aluminium and steel – is to protect against galvanic corrosion between the dissimilar metals. This is based on Honda's "3D Lock Seam" structure..

According to Honda engineers, the FSW sub-frame if 25 per cent, or 6kg, lighter than the previous sub frame which used bolts to affix the aluminium and steel components together. This is one of the major benefits that will result in improved fuel economy.

Another application of FSW by Honda enables the adoption of aluminium for door outer panels conventionally made of steel. This is a further weight-saving measure for the Accord.

                            Next generation

The next generation NSX will be built exclusively at the all-new Performance Manufacturing Centre. In addition to being sold in North America, the NSX will be exported to customers throughout the world including Europe.

The original Honda NSX was built at the Takanezawa plant in Japan from 1990 until production moved to the Suzuka plant in early 2004, where it was produced until 2005. Part of the Tochigi Factory, the Takanezawa plant was the first manufacturing facility in the world to mass-produce an all-aluminum body and balance advanced production equipment with hands-on "craftsman" processes.                                      

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