A new $71.4 million engine assembly facility at Honda’s Alabama plant is so advanced that its 250 workers and 92 robots can turn out 1,500 V-6 engines per day, thanks to automated systems that can handle tasks such as assembling and installing pistons.
The sophisticated new engine line at Honda’s facility in Alabama represents a breakthrough for the automaker’s engine North American assembly operations because of its highly automated assembly processes.
“Our new automated engine assembly line is the most advanced facility of its kind at any Honda operation across the globe — and it’s right here in Lincoln, Alabama,” said Jeff Tomko, president of Honda Manufacturing of Alabama.
“This facility embodies the tremendous amount of confidence that Honda has in our Alabama team – a team that can now more quickly respond to customer demand for light truck vehicles equipped with some of the most dependable, powerful, fuel-efficient and technologically advanced engines in our industry,” Tomko added.
Inside the new 186,000-square-foot engine facility, highly automated systems perform a wide range of parts handling and installation functions. A robotic station along the line can assemble more than 9,000 pistons daily – a cycle time of six seconds per piston. There’s also a fully automated piston installation process, a first for any Honda engine plant in the world.
Honda added 50 new workers to launch the automated engine facility, adding to the staff that has produced more than 3.4 million V-6 engines since the facility in Talladega County kicked off production on Nov. 14, 2001.
“Honda’s Alabama workforce produces world-class vehicles and engines, and the automaker continues to expand its operation in Lincoln to keep up with demand for its popular products,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “This new automated engine assembly line is another sign that the longstanding partnership between Honda and Alabama is going strong.”
Honda showed off the new engine line at a ceremony Friday attended by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley.
Honda's Record Year
The new engine assembly line began limited production in late 2014, a record year for Honda’s Alabama operation. Last year, the facility in Lincoln produced 363,419 Odyssey minivans, Pilot sport utility vehicles, Acura luxury SUVs and Ridgeline pickups, along with the V-6 engines to power them.
The Alabama plant is the sole production source for all those vehicles. Honda recently confirmed that production of the next-generation Ridgeline will begin at the Lincoln facility early next year. In February, it debuted the redesigned 2016 Pilot at the Chicago Auto Show.
During the past three years, Honda has invested more than $510 million in its Alabama assembly plant, adding 450 workers in expansion efforts aimed at enhancing manufacturing flexibility and increasing annual production.
The 3.7 million-square-foot facility now employs more than 4,000 people.
“It is the teamwork and dedication of each associate that has enabled us to provide high-quality products for our Honda and Acura customers,” Tomko said.