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Millionth engine marks milestone for Honda's U.S. production unit.

Honda of America Mfg., Inc., has combined plant and production engineering with advanced manufacturing techniques to become one of the leading engine producers in North America. In February, the company produced its one millionth vehicle engine at its Anna, Ohio, plant.

According to Al Kinzer, senior vice president and plant manager, the $600 million plant is Honda's largest single investment outside Japan.

The million-square-foot plant manufactures 500,000 high technology engines and drive trains a year. Kinzer noted that the plant produces everything that makes a car "go and stop." He said that even Japan has no Honda facility comparable to the Anna plant. Its production, he reported, equals the total of seven similar Honda manufacturing units in Japan. At present production levels, a Civic or Accord engine is produced at the Anna plant every 27 seconds.

Production operations began with just 91 associates," as Honda employees are known, who built 20 motorcycle engines a day. Presently 2000 associates produce nearly 21 00 engines, plus 1500 automatic transmissions and thousands of related drive train components daily. The plant builds more 2.2 liter Accord engines than are made in Japan.

Currently, the Anna Engine Plant uses about 60 U.S. suppliers for various parts and production equipment. The list includes Grede Foundries for engine mounting brackets and Gibbs Die Casting for bearing caps and cylinder head covers. Aluminum ingot suppliers are Wabash Alloys, Alreco Metals, Arkansas Aluminum and Alcan Ingot Alloys of Canada. Raw materials for ferrous castings are supplied by Elkem Metals, Hickman, Williams & Co. and Minerals. Foundry Operations

Honda's iron foundry operates three shifts per day. The ferrous casting and machining operations include the production of engine cylinder sleeves and brake discs and drums. Aluminum casting operations include high pressure casting of engine blocks and transmission and torque converter cases, low pressure casting of engine cylinder heads and gravity casting of pistons.

The foundry melts and pours more iron and aluminum than any other engine plant in North America, currently casting 36,000 tons of gray iron and 19,200 tons of 300 and 400 series aluminum alloy castings each year. Ferrous castings average under 10 lb each and aluminum castings range up to 1 00 lb each. A high standard of environmental control allows ferrous and aluminum melting and casting to be combined under one roof with machining and assembly operations.

The foundry uses a chemically bonded molding process and a gas hardened coremaking system. It employs a single dry bottom cupola to melt 13.5 tons of gray iron an hour. The cupola has an automated charge and return system and uses a containerized raw material delivery system. Automatic inoculation allows three kinds of iron alloy to be poured from one basic iron melt.

The molding line uses an automated core stocker, feeder and mask changer. Recycled green sand is transported by pneumatic tubes and underground conveyors to control dust.

Two reverberatory furnaces melt aluminum. Two channel and 12 resistance furnaces are used to hold the aluminum prior to pouring and engine block, cylinder head and piston casting is fully automated. The manufacture of four different engines is supported by quick die changes of less than 10 minutes.

On-site testing includes sand and chemical analysis labs, tensile, hardness and metallographic testing, magnetic particle and radiographic analysis. Foundry operations include pattern-making, welding, rough and surface machining, painting and assembly.
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Title Annotation:Honda of America Manufacturing Inc.
Author:Bex, Tom
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Apr 1, 1991
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