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Nissan Manufacturing Wish List

What are the sorts of things that people at Nissan North American manufacturing ops are looking for?

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Nissan North America has an extensive manufacturing footprint. Consider only its operations in Tennessee, for example. There is the Smyrna Assembly Plant. This is a 6-million-square-foot facility where 7,250 people work, producing 640,000 vehicles per year. The output at the plant includes the Nissan Altima, Maxima, Leaf, Pathfinder, Rogue, and Infiniti QX60, or sedans, an electric vehicle and crossovers. True flexible production.

Nissan body assembly

Images: Inside the Nissan Smyrna Assembly Plant. (All: Nissan North America; photos by Ken Tucker)

Then south of Smyrna is the Decherd Powertrain Plant. This is a 1.2-million square foot operation where 1,700 people work, producing 1.4 million engines, 1.4 million crankshaft forgings, and 456,000 cylinder block castings per year. They are producing two different 2.5-liter fours, a 3.5-liter six, and a 4.0-liter six, a 5.6-liter eight, and performing the assembly for the Leaf eMotor.

So we asked the Nissan Manufacturing team what they’d be interested in when it comes to new production technology, something of a wish-list. There are answers from machining personnel, assembly personnel, advanced technology and all.

Nissan Smyrna

The plant produces the Nissan Altima, Maxima, Leaf, Pathfinder, Rogue, and Infiniti QX60.

And this is what we learned:

All:

  • Anything that allows processes to be automated—whether on the plant floor or in the office
  • 3D printing and robotic forming for service, repair and legacy parts

Machining:

  • Machining centers with built-in 3D metal printers for part repair/rework
  • Porosity inspection system for visual porosity detection using a laser/camera
  • Data connectivity, especially for legacy controls for data
  • Advanced tooling

Assembly:

  • Material handling and kitting automation like that being used in automated warehouses and by online retailers
  • Robotics-as-a-Service business models and advanced control technology without big infrastructure costs
  • Autonomous quality inspection (deep learning, laser, etc.)
  • Automated material inventory management
  • Advanced robotics for automating new tasks within assembly

Advanced technology:

  • Anything in the space of digital twins, IIoT, machine learning, and analytics
Inside Nissan Smyrna

Advanced tech is a way of work at Nissan.