Nissan announced a 33 billion yen (AED 1.1 Trillion) investment in advanced technologies and equipment for its factories around the world. These will help deliver the next generation of electrified and intelligent automobiles envisioned under the company’s Nissan Intelligent Mobility strategy.
The technologies will be developed in the company’s Tochigi Plant in Japan and then implemented across the globe.
Over the years, Nissan’s takumi master technicians have perfected a range of processes that require a high degree of craftsmanship. This latest investment is aimed at a redesign of conventional car manufacturing. Nissan’s next generation of cars will be electrified, intelligent and connected. This requires major advancements in production engineering.
Robotic application of sealant to seams around the vehicle body.
“We’re facing an unprecedented evolution in the capabilities of our vehicles,” said Hideyuki Sakamoto, Nissan’s executive VP for manufacturing. “Our job is to make this evolution a reality by rethinking how we build cars. This will also mean shifting the efforts of our expert technicians from techniques they’ve already mastered to new, unexplored areas.”
One of the developments is shifting the difficult process of powertrain mounting from assembly line workers to an automated pallet system. Developed by Nissan’s Production Engineering Research and Development Center, the mounting system measures the car’s dimensions and adjusts the mounting in real time. The same pallet can assemble and install 27 different powertrain module combinations.
Another area of improvement is the digitization of delicate processes which were until now performed by craftspeople with specialist skills. The craftsmanship has now been passed onto robots, allowing the craftspeople to focus on new areas of expertise. For example, Nissan’s engineers have not only automated the process of applying sealant, but also analyzed the movements and gestures of trained workers when smoothing and finishing sealant. As a result, the robots can now apply and finish sealant quickly and precisely.
Robotic installation of headliner, the overhead layer of material on the inside of a car’s roof.
Some strenuous tasks such as the installation of a headliner, the overhead layer of material on the inside of a car’s roof, have become even harder for workers as cars come with more connected features. They have therefore also been passed onto robots, whose sensors monitor secure fastening of the headliner into place.
In addition to automating its processes, Nissan is also focusing on cutting the environmental impact. They have developed a water-based paint that maintains the right viscosity at low temperatures, enabling car bodies to be painted at low temperatures together with the bumpers. This will reduce CO2 emissions from the process by 25%.
Nissan is clearly determined to realize its vision of Intelligent Mobility to tackle existing and future challenges, and ensure more flexible, efficient and sustainable production operations.