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MAZDA MOTOR CORPORATION TO RESTART PRODUCTION AT UJINA NO.1 PLANT IN APRIL
HIROSHIMA, Japan-Mazda Motor Corporation announced today that the paint shop at the Ujina No.1 Plant (U1) that was damaged during a fire in December 2004 is to be completely restored, resuming full production with integrated painting and vehicle assembly in April 2005. Initial estimates of a 70,000-unit production loss have also been revised, with strong recovery efforts Mazda has undertaken to produce an estimated additional 40,000 units, resulting in a loss of an estimated 30,000 production units due to the fire's interruption.
Mazda is on track to make a rapid recovery from the fire in approximately four months- faster than the more-than six-month restoration period that was initially forecast-due to a module-based construction system that has reduced both construction time on the affected area of the building and the interval required for the installation of new production equipment. The eco-friendly Three Layer Wet Paint System will also be introduced to the newly refurbished U1 line and is one of the reasons Mazda will be able to complete the restoration project so quickly.
Production of the MX-5, RX-8, Bongo and Bongo Brawny vans will resume in mid-February at (U1) by utilizing the paint shop of the Ujina No.2 Plant (U2) and at other company's facilities for integrated production. Manufacture of the Demio and Verisa has already begun and MPV production is scheduled to begin at the end of January. With the exception of the Bongo Friendee, Mazda will restart production of all models previously produced on the U1 line before the fire.
Restarting Fully Integrated Production at the U1 Plant
While safety and quality remain top priorities during the restoration, Mazda has also taken steps not to cause any disturbance to people living in the vicinity of the plant-temporary soundproofing, for example, has been installed to reduce construction noise.
Mazda has developed an advanced paint technology, the Three Layer Wet Paint System, which improves paint quality while reducing energy consumption. This system dispenses with the high-temperature "bake" normally necessary between the primer and the topcoat and shortens the painting process. It also features a control system that reduces the number of robots, resulting in a truncated installation time on the U1 line. The paint robot foundations are to be installed prior to the production facility being refurbished. The Three Layer Wet Paint system has already been implemented at Mazda's U2 Plant, Hofu No. 1 Plant (H1) and Hofu No. 2 Plant (H2) in Japan. Introducing this system to the U1 Plant completes the extension of the same paint system to all Mazda plants in Japan.
Additionally, the U1 restoration project will require less time than forecast due to the use of a 'module system' that consists of prefabricated steel frame units that can be erected sequentially at the site. These measures drastically shorten the restoration time required, allowing Mazda to target resumption of production in April.
Until production utilizing the U1 line paint shop starts, the U2 line's paint shop and other company's painting facilities will be used to continue vehicle production. Placing the highest priority on safety and quality, Mazda also aims to minimize the impact of the fire to deliver our product to waiting customers as swiftly as possible.
To this end,integrated production of the MX-5 and RX-8 will resume at the U1 line in mid-February by employing the U2 line's paint shop.
The painting process for the Bongo and Bongo Brawny vans is being temporarily outsourced to Mitsubishi Motors Corporation's Mizushima Plant (Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture) and Press Kogyo Co. Ltd. (Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture) as painting these vehicles in the U2 paint shop is technically not feasible. After the paintwork is completed at these locations, assembly will be carried out at Mazda's U1 Plant.
Production of all models except for the Bongo Friendee will have resumed approximately two months after the fire. (Bongo Friendee production will resume after the paint shop at the U1 line has been restored.) The original estimate of a 70,000-unit reduction in production has been scaled back to 30,000 units due to Mazda's efforts that have led to 40,000 units being recovered.