GLOBAL DATA – Nissan Motor Corporation has unveiled ‘Intelligent Factory’ initiative to use artificial intelligence (AI), IoT and robotics to manufacture next-generation vehicles and a zero-emission production system in Japan. With the ‘smart’ factory, Nissan is heading in the direction where most of the players will be ensuing soon, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Out of the JPY130bn (US$1.14bn) announced for the enhancement of its global factories, Nissan has invested JPY33bn (US$290m) on its Tochigi plant in the north of Tokyo. Tochigi is the third key production facility for Nissan in Japan after Kyushu and Oppama that has a production capacity of about 250,000 units annually. It will produce new Nissan Ariya crossover electric this fiscal year.
Bakar Sadik Agwan, Senior Automotive Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Tochigi plant will commence Nissan’s transition to the fourth industrial revolution and will make its vehicle manufacturing more flexible and efficient.”
The production line replaces labor with robots for all range of processes that ensure high quality of production with reduced lead time.
Mr. Agwan continues: “Mercedes-Benz is already in the game with its ‘Factory 56’ – a flexible, digital and green production line based on Industry 4.0. Ford’s ‘Blue Oval City’ also aims to use always-on cloud-connected technologies for quality manufacturing. VW, Audi and BMW Group have also been rapidly adopting Industry 4.0 to digitize its production for future vehicles.”
Nissan’s intelligent factory aims to achieve carbon neutrality across the ‘life cycle’ of its vehicles and eventually become carbon neutral by 2050. This would be through improving energy and material efficiency across processes. The company aims for 100% electrification of its manufacturing by 2030 and will entirely rely on renewable sources such as geothermal, solar and wind for all its energy needs which would be developed internally.
Mr. Agwan concludes: “Global automakers’ race to the ‘net-zero’ has been picking up the pace. The shift in focus from ‘green cars’ to complete ‘green manufacturing’ has been disrupting the traditional automotive manufacturing. The disruptions are also aimed at utilizing advanced manufacturing technologies to enhance manufacturing quality, reduce lead time and combat certain other challenges faced by the auto industry such as the labour-intensive nature of the business and the unavailability of a skilled workforce. Not to forget the operational challenges and long production shutdowns that automakers faced due to the COVID-19 recently.
“Disruption in manufacturing and seriousness on net-zero targets by Nissan and other OEMs signals a loud and clear message that automakers are flexible and ready to transform with time. This is important in the aspect of growing electrification and the invasion of technology players aiming to disrupt auto manufacturing and breaking the conventional labour-intensive and heavily supplier reliant manufacturing.”