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Honda Tunes Portal

New app will standardize orders among U.S. factories with 600 suppliers

An evolving supplier portal is playing a key role in helping change the image of the Information Services group at Honda of America Manufacturing Inc. In the past, the IT team has had little sense of urgency and accountability, and "projects were often late or over budget," says David King, assistant VP of IS. "Honda's top executives didn't view IS as an asset, but more as a necessity."

The latest addition to the portal, due this fall, is a request-for-quotes platform to define parts-purchase specifications for Honda's 600 suppliers in North America. It will standardize ordering by Honda's U.S. factories and replace a paper process that requires multiple signatures before goods could be bought. It joins 14 other applications on a portal that King says reduces costs and improves overall quality management in the supply chain. The first three applications, for delivery, parts quality, and supplier management, paid for themselves in less than a year. The most recent app, launched in April, has reduced the design-change-request process to eight days from 18 days, and lets suppliers respond quickly to design modifications.

The IS group also is reviewing radio-frequency identification technology to track parts through the manufacturing process.

Separately, American Honda Motor Co. Inc. last week said the speech-recognition and synthesis system it's been working on with IBM will appear as standard equipment on the 2005 Acura RL and as an option on the 2005 Honda Odyssey in the U.S. and Canada beginning this month. IBM's Embedded ViaVoice software lets drivers speak any street address and receive turn-by-turn voice guidance.

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