Honda has been a dedicated brand when it comes to creating world-class, virtually indestructible and quality products. All this attributed to their methodical and streamlined approach to manufacturing. They gave us a sneak peek inside their manufacturing unit at Tapukara quiet recently and made a serious impact on our perception. We knew the plant and processes are run as a very tight ship, but looking at just how precise the working system is, frankly unnerving.
Honda’s first plant is setup in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, and the second one started manufacturing in 2014 at Tapukara, Rajasthan. The entire area covered is 400 acres, consider nearly 300 football fields as a perspective. Fortunately, I was there when the CM of the state came for its inauguration. Coming back brings memories and surprise as the facility is now lit with progress. This plant can produce 1.8lakh units at full chat, however currently it is working at a steady 1.2lakh units. It makes and tests all the modern Honda cars, City, Jazz, WR-V and BR-V. It literally has its own forging shop, a first for any OEM. Almost everything crankshaft, manual gearboxes, petrol and diesel engines in your Honda are made a Tapukara. Only the very complex bits, like relays and CVT are imported. Rest is all made in India bringing localisation to nearly 90 percent.
Now it’s easy to explain how Honda makes a car right from the crankshaft, to the engine, to body panels, chassis, assembling it all together, paint it and then finally drive test it for every single detail inside the facility. But a lot of others do that and frankly reading about is much boring then observing that in person. But what is fascinating is how each process is monitored for quality and safety. Multiple robots, 97 in action, work around the forging, power train, press, weld, paint, and plastic moulding and assembly shops. Keeping them running is an important task, and so is monitoring safety around them.
The use of robots is essential so as to reduce putting a man do hazardous tasks dealing with massive heat and chemical parameters. Especially when you consider is takes just 20 hours to make one car, and 490 in one day alone. And accuracy is important too, this facility also exports components to UK, USA, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Southwest Asia.
Training for these associates is as crucial as all these machines. The best machine can get underutilised under unskilled labour. Honda prepares these employees in-house through a program they call, ‘Gurukul’. Here students are given basic training about safety, gear and machines, via practical and visual aids in a classroom. Then they advance to learn with a robot and understand the man-machine relationship. This collaboration is most important for efficient and quality production. And of course safety or production cannot be compromised because somebody missed their class or station; attendance levels are exceptional at Tapukara.
This sense of order and discipline can be seen all around the facility, inside shops and outside them. Truth be told, such road discipline is not even followed on the roads of the capital, following lines, wearing clean whites, a hard hat and glasses in shops, smoking in designated areas, using zebra crossing strictly, not even my college teach students all of this, well except the smoking bit. But this is the reflection of Japanese methods to be efficient and safe. And green too, this plant is Zero Discharge and recycles waste water 100 percent, has its own 1200KW solar power plant and harvests 97 percent rain water. They’ve planted 25,000 trees around the 50 percent open spaces of the facility. In fact this is what they made us do as soon as we entered; I proudly have planted one of the trees for Autoportal.
Honda’s commitment to create fantastic products, cause minimum pollution while doing it, providing employment and help the community around it is very welcome. This actually elevates them to being an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO). Their dedication to the Indian market is profound and can be seen in their delivery quality. And such a strong facility means they will keep delivering excellent new cars and support for them in the future. So any time if you happen to be travelling to Alwar, Rajasthan, take a drive around the Tapukara Honda facility to get a glimpse of the scale of their operations, well worth it!