Organisation structure of Honda Research groups
Honda follows a systems engineering approach for its research and development. The first part of the process is called the R stage where innovative new technologies are aggressively chased and are evaluated on a futuristic approach. The second stage is the D involving the development of products from concepts and principles generated during the R stage.
The R stage and the D stage function as integrated environment, a symbiosis which generated maximum efficiency of innovation. The product development activities of Honda are clearly distinguished based on products application and also in to fundamental research. Honda had been more innovative in cascading technologies from high end products to a totally new set of applications. Honda attributes their majority of innovation from fundamental research to motorcycles and automobiles. Honda had been highly successful in translating innovations that essential requirements of market need. It achieves a perfect balance between engineering, market research, sales and development. Honda terms this balance as SED and defines them as the basic corporate function for successful innovation.
Honda was the first automotive manufacturer in the world to restructure the establishment to endorse environmental protection throughout the world. Honda continuously improves and expands their company to accomplish environmental conduct towards a global extent in order to realize the following goals,
* To perform environmental preservation actions on every step of its operations and throughout complete product lifecycle of all their products.
* To put into practice quick and elastic process over all its establishments across the globe.
Honda's innovations are not only limited to product innovation or manufacturing but also extended in the innovation environmental impact assessment process, which is a measure of the ecosystem impact on each stage of operation known as the lifecycle assessment system (LCA).
3.1 Organisational environmental groups
The three core areas on which Hondas continues to innovate on environmental aspects are
1. Establishment of corporate committees for environmental conservation across the globe.
2. Establishment of countrywide groups for handling regional environmental projects.
3. Addition of continuous innovative ideas and implementation of environmental activities.
The organisation chart described in the figure 3.2 gives a comprehensible representation on Honda's concurrent engineering process of utilising its organisational innovation structure for implementation of continuous improvements in environmental and ecological aspects of its every organisational function. The executive committee of its environmental organisation group decides medium-term policies, on which every department proposes their plans. As these plans are approved by the by environmental committee they are tested and the results are monitored and evaluated. Based on the results of the ideas that are approved plans are proposed on a global scale for implementation.
3.2 Innovation through introduction of environmental management system to each stage of product lifecycles
The world environmental committee established numerous innovative by implementation of environmental management system in order drastically reduce the waste generated and its impact to the society to every stage of its product lifecycle. Honda managed to generate a huge impact throughout all regions of the globe with its environmental committee by meticulously following environmental management systems, by education, continuous training to all levels of employees to create high awareness levels and by continuously monitoring the impact of every activity on all stages of its product lifecycle. The typical implementation cycle followed by all parts of Honda organisation worldwide for environmental management systems that gets incorporated on all activities of product life cycle is shown in figure 3.3. Every part of the environmental management system of Honda typically follows the plan, do check and act cycle (PDCA). Each department activities are based on this cycle and it strictly complies with the environmental system policies established by the Honda world committee.
3.4 Examples of innovations handled and implemented by Hondas world environmental committee
3.4.1. North America
The North American plants in Honda collaborated with the Ohio state university and developed a new air-conditioning system that incorporates innovate fuzzy logic control systems that is capable of reducing energy consumption as much as 25% by predictive control mechanisms. Figure 4.4 shows the assembly line of the Marysville paint booth line .
Honda operation in Belgium constructed a new warehouse in Aalst that is completely powered by renewable resources. The roofs of the warehouses are constructed by means of photovoltaic solar panels for 7000 square meters that is capable of generating 880KW of power which is sufficient to run the entire facility . In case of demanding weather conditions the power is purchased from a nearby hydroelectric farm from the Alps.
Honda Siel Cars limited in India is rapid expanding its facilities and in the verge of ramp up of production volumes. The manufacturing facilities in India has introduced a new version of painting technology that uses electro-static spray guns which reduces the volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions to 30% lesser than the conventional mechanism.
Honda has conducted a new attempt in china for new logistics innovation methodologies. All the vehicles that are manufactured in Wuhan, China are distributed by means of railway network to drastically reduce CO2 emission. Honda invented the first rail transportation model for vehicle distribution and logistics.
3.4.5. South America
The South American groups of Hondas have invented a new methodology of reusing the core and cavity of sand casts that are usually discarded as junk in regular process. The research made by the South American group had come up with an idea of using Amazon sands which can recycle and re-used. This has lead to a drastic decrease in the consumption of sand that is used for core manufacturing.
The project team is highly motivated after analysing Hondas innovation management strategies creeping through its entire department. Most of the companies confine their innovation as the time to market is critical, but in case of Honda it has broaden it to production, manufacturing, logistics, marketing etc. Hondas design for environment shows their corporate responsibility for future generation and their long term sustainability. The success of Honda in diverse sectors from automotive to robotics is merely because of their organisational innovation system which drives individual to innovate and follow best business practices. We could see the innovation management strategies followed by R&D and Manufacturing is different but has same goals i.e. to attain high creation quality & consumer satisfaction.
The expression innovation doesn't have limits. The innovation may be a product innovation or a process innovation and there are many areas to innovate. Innovating right things in right time matters and it's possible only by proper organisational innovation system. Honda formulated innovation to be a part of human life and had resulted in novelty in different areas of Product development (Motor Cycle Airbag system), Production process (flexible manufacturing system, no door assembly), after market (Tochigi Innovation Centre), Environment (eliminate toxic substance, increase recyclable materials), Logistics (Electric Rail transport to cut Co2) and the list never end. Honda showcase itself as a best organisation with a powerful mission statement "To transform the Power of Dreams" mentoring even 100 years old companies like GM facing huge losses due to their bad innovation management.
As said before there is no end for an innovation and Hondas continuous innovation is an example for any organisational innovation system which gives importance to both radial and incremental innovation. Honda business diversity is a huge strength and it should make use of innovation as much as possible, for example innovation in area of robotic can be utilized in auto assembly. For this to happen organisational innovation system should be transparent to all departments and different business divisions.
. The Honda Environmental statement, Honda CSR report 2008
. Organisation structure for Honda Ecology, Honda Sustainability report, 2008
. Looking after quality and safety, Honda group quality report, 2008
. Masaaki Kato, President and CEO, Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, LLC Management Briefing Seminar, August 4, 2004.