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UPDATE: CVT pulleys now just a stone’s throw away

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ANNA — An ocean, more than 6,000 miles and 13 time zones used to stand between Honda Transmission Manufacturing Inc.’s supply of high precision pulleys and its Russells Point plant.

Now the supply for HTM’s continuously variable transmissions is coming from a neighbor less than 20 miles away — the Anna Engine Plant.

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Honda Transmission Manufacturing Inc.’s Plant Manager Gary Hand, left center, poses with Anna Engine Plant Manager John Spoltman, right center, and other Honda associates for photographs after Thursday’s ceremony marking the mass production start up of pulleys for the continuously variable transmissions. (EXAMINER PHOTO | JOEL E. MAST)

“This localization of the CVT components will help improve our competitiveness,” said HTM’s Plant Manager Gary Hand after he received commemorative pulley assemblies during Thursday’s celebration of mass production of the pulleys.

“When we started making the CVT, the pulleys were only made in Japan and that was our supply source,”  he said.

That meant around a month lead time for parts, increased logistics cost and less flexibility to address any issues that arose.

Anna has one line running now and has started a 93,000-square-foot expansion for a second line. Each line will be capable of producing 1,400 units a day at full production.

Pulley assemblies are shipped to HTM for installation into the CVT which is then shipped back to Anna to mate the transmissions to the engines.

The proximity will allow the plants to feed each other more efficiently and respond to market demands or production issues more quickly, Mr. Hand said.

All of which helps the automaker’s competitiveness.

Honda has been investing heavily in its Ohio operations, committing more than $1 billion for expansion projects in the past three years.

Anna has received almost $500 million alone.

Investments include new buildings and equipment.

The new line uses around 175 new machines for the highly technical processes, which also require advanced manufacturing skills to meet the precise tolerances required for the pulley component.

Associates monitor systems in the highly automated lines, which limits handling of the pulleys.

CVT manufacturing, locating production of Acura NSX in Ohio and consolidating executive operations here are more examples of Honda’s commitment to the state. It also is part of Honda’s plans to increase the global impact of the local facilities and its workforce.

“The global management of Honda has great confidence in your abilities,” Tetsuo Iwamura, chief operating officer of Honda North America Regional Operations, said to associates during the ceremony. “That’s why they’ve given you more responsibilities.

“For almost three decades, the Anna Engine Plant has met challenge after challenge ... from motorcycle engines, to automobile engines, to a great number of major components. The successful startup of the production of these high tech components in Ohio is a major step in our ongoing effort to play a lead role within Honda’s global operations.”

Anna Plant Manager John Spoltman said it was an “honor” for the plant’s workforce to make the pulleys for the CVT.

“Production of these high-precision pulleys required our associates to draw on their existing skills and apply them to a new technology to create new value in Ohio,” he said.

“Tremendous customer demand for the new Accord also means we have to ramp up production very quickly, and I am proud of what our team has accomplished in working to meet this challenge.”

Honda’s sporty new CVT is featured in the popular 4-cylinder version of the 2013 Honda Accord, helping it achieve both high fuel efficiency and fun-to-drive performance at a high level, Honda says.

These Earth Dreams Technologies have won awards from the media and help make Accord the most popular car in America, based on its industry-leading retail sales during the first six months of 2013.

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