BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Nissan North America Inc. will benefit from a toned and lean supplier base this year when it begins its marathon run for U.S. production expansion.
Nissan will cut the ribbon on a $1.5 billion factory this month in Canton, Miss., beginning a schedule of four product launches in eight months. This year also has seen Nissan open a full-scale engine plant in Decherd, Tenn., and add a Maxima production line at its plant in Smyrna, Tenn. Also, construction is under way to add an Altima production line to the Mississippi plant even before it opens officially.
To make all of that possible, the company has had to get its suppliers into better shape, said Emil Hassan, senior vice president for North American manufacturing, purchasing, logistics and quality.
Nissan has pushed its suppliers into a system of integrated manufacturing in which they produce and deliver components in lock step with the assembly plant's own daily production schedule.
Parts are delivered for specific vehicles just as they are needed at the assembly plant, reducing storage and other costs.
"Integrated manufacturing requires a collaborative effort with our supply base where Nissan learns from its suppliers and our suppliers learn from and grow with us," Hassan told the Automotive News Manufacturing Conference here.
As an illustration of his suppliers' transformation, Hassan cited the improvement in their ability to deliver parts in sequence with specific model production. He said that in 1999, when Nissan first attempted sequenced delivery at its plant in Smyrna, the effort was about 17 percent accurate.
"After a lot of hard work by Nissan and its suppliers, the percentage rose to 95 percent," he said.
Hassan added that the in-sequence results for the new Mississippi plant will be even higher than 95 percent.