Honda’s Swindon plant to close for six days to cope with impact of Brexit

January 10, 2019

Japanese car giant Honda is to halt production at its Swindon plant for six days in April to stockpile components and help it overcome border disruption after the UK leaves the EU.

Honda, which employs 4,000 people at the plant making Civic cars and engines for the global market, said it had been assessing how to cope with any disruption caused by logistics and border issues following the departure on March 29. 

The plant operates a strict ‘just-in-time’ manufacturing process which means it holds very little stock. It has deliveries of around 2m components every day, arriving on 350 lorries. Deliveries from suppliers go straight to the assembly lines.

British operations to help it counter any border disruption from the United Kingdoms departure from the European Union.

Carmakers have warned that their factories, which rely on the constant delivery of parts to enter production cycles, would be severely damaged if Britain leaves the EU without a trade deal, forcing the need for customs checks at borders.

A spokesman for Honda of the UK Manufacturing – the division that operates the plant – said: “To ensure Honda is well placed to adjust to all possible outcomes, we are planning six non-production days in April 2019.

“This is to facilitate production recovery activity following any delays at borders on parts. These contingency provisions have been put in place to best mitigate the risk of disruption to production operations at the Swindon factory.”

Hondas announcement came as rival car makers Jaguar Land Rover and Ford said they would be restructuring their businesses. While JLR said it would axe 4,500 jobs, mainly in the UK, due to a slowing market in China and the reversal of diesel car sales, it said it remained committed to the UK and would continue to invest in its British plants. 

Ford announced a shake-up of its European operations which industry watchers expect to lead to job lossses in its UK plants. 

In 2017 Honda senior vice-president Ian Howells broke the firms traditionally tight-lipped approach to commenting in public on politcal matters by warning against leaving the EU customs union at a car industry summit.

Speaking at a summit staged by UK car industry group SMMT, he said: “We have just one hour of supply of parts at the side of the line, and half a day in local warehouses.

“From that description of the flow of goods you can see how new customs rules would harm our ability to produce cars.”

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