In the world of motorbikes, the affinity that a rider feels for his beloved machine is an extremely strong one. A motorbike is not simply a mode of transport, but must be safe, provide comfort and style, and at times also play the role of reflecting the rider’s personality.
PLOT Inc. (HQ: Kariya City, Aichi Prefecture, hereinafter known as PLOT) is involved in the development, production, import and sales of custom parts for 2-wheeled and 4-wheeled vehicles, as well as the sales of various 2-wheeled vehicles in Japan, America, Europe and South East Asia.
Row of Road Hoppers in a shop.
PLOT used to face various problems in producing custom parts. For example, in order to develop custom parts for installation on existing motorbikes, data on the installation location would have to be measured. Hand tools such as vernier calipers and height gauges often could not enter the gaps between built-in motorbike parts. As a result, the entire motorbike had to be stripped down once, just so that the installation location could be measured. Half a day would typically be spent making production tools, jigs and time-consuming measurements using hand tools. However, as the accuracy of the measurement devices depend on the operator’s skill, it was extremely difficult to ensure consistency and repeatability all the time.
Furthermore, finished prototypes had to be inspected using tools and jigs first before being installed. Any existing flaws would then require the part be removed and reworked. Since this involved several cycles of inspections and installations, this method involved a very large amount of time before the item could be completed.
PLOT introduced the 8-ft FaroArm Platinum to its facility in 2007. FARO’s sales representative recalled, “In our experience and from our customers’ feedback, the FaroArm is an effective tool for manufacturers that develop after-market parts. That’s why we really wanted PLOT to try it.”
One of the best features of the FaroArm is its versatility. As the FaroArm can enter very narrow spaces, the need to strip an entire motorbike down for measurement is no longer required. The need for tools and jigs has also been eliminated, offering further savings on time and money. As measurements are taken on the shop floor through the development stages, articles are perfected more easily and with fewer tries. As a result, the lead-time required to complete a job is substantially reduced.
“By using the FaroArm, the design process was shortened due to a reduction in the amount of CAD-data required,” said Mr. Kuniaki Kondo, Section Manager of Product Development, PLOT. “This shortened the development time significantly.”
Now, the use of the FaroArm has become the norm in PLOT’s manufacturing of custom parts. As a result, most of the tools and jigs that the team previously relied on have been discarded. This is largely because of the increasing difficulty PLOT had in finding storage for these items. Also, as PLOT had amassed quite a notable inventory of tools and jigs, the amount of effort and time spent on managing them also became impractical.
As described by Mr. Yoshimitsu Kondo, President, PLOT, “FaroArm is now an essential tool in our production process, because of its speed, accuracy and reliability.” The FaroArm has since been built into the overall product development process at PLOT.
Measurement of custom handle using FaroArm.
The Assembly of Road Hopper, an original PLOT motorbike. Instead of a production line, the machines are manually assembled one at a time.
PLOT was founded by its President, Mr. Yoshimitsu Kondo, as an avenue to obtain funding for his dream to become a professional racer. Subsequently, due to his inquisitive nature, he expanded the business to what it is today — one that involves all facets of the motorbike business.
PLOT has constantly been at the forefront of new challenges, from developing original motorbikes, to racing, and even in introducing foreign brands to Japan. For example, PLOT pioneered the development and sale of stainless mesh brake hoses (normally used in racing motorbikes) for use in commercial motorbikes. This is testimony of the company’s strength in developing products that reflects its experience and track record. One other example is in how PLOT made use of racing data obtained from the ‘Suzuka 8 hours Endurance Road Race’ to test out new ideas and push the performance boundaries of tough racing conditions.
Since September 2011, the company also embarked on the new business of refurbishing golf carts. Through this, the company hopes to eventually build up on expertise towards becoming a leading manufacturer of golf carts — a dream that is within reach, so long as there is passion, as demonstrated before by President Kondo. “With me taking the lead, our staff has always worked on the premise of doing what they like and what they find interesting,” said President Kondo. With a clear vision of what he wants, good associates have naturally gravitated towards him, thereby leading to business growth that has been well-regarded and trusted.
PLOT Inc. develops, produces, imports and sells custom parts for 2-wheeled and 4-wheeled vehicles, as well as the sales of various 2-wheeled vehicles in Japan, America, Europe and South East Asia.