Karmann soon won't be the only supplier with a factory-within-a-factory at Nissan's Sunderland, England, assembly plant.
A number of other partmakers will join Karmann inside the plant as Nissan pushes to boost Sunderland's production 25 percent to 400,000 units by adding three models by late 2006.
Magna Kansei and Calsonic Kansei will be located inside the plant when production of the Tone small minivan starts in January 2006.
Positioned along the assembly line, Magna Kansei will supply cockpit modules and Calsonic Kansei will provide front-end modules.The production start of the new crossover P32L (Qashqai) in December 2006 will likely see further suppliers enter the Nissan factory.
"The factory-within-a factory is the ultimate lean production system conceivable," said Colin Dodge, managing director of Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK.
"The most important thing for me is the quality feedback of the system; it's the most unsophisticated but effective system - you just shout to the supplier when you've got a problem. It does away with other reporting systems and analysis."
Moving some suppliers in-house also frees up valuable space near the plant so other suppliers can move closer.
Lear is believed to be close to a location decision for a new 100,000-square foot plant in Sunderland but suitable sites require careful searching out.
Local industrial real estate specialists claim a further five to six suppliers are currently looking for sites range in size from 20,000 to 100,000 square feet.
"As part of the Nissan Integrated Management System we are actively talking to other Sunderland suppliers with a view to integrating production and to ensure we maintain the highest quality levels into the future," said Trevor Mann, Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK deputy managing director.
Dodge also wants to see even today's minimal inventory reduced further and elimination of the dozens of daily delivery truck movements around the plant. To facilitate the change, existing main production lines will be shortened and individual stations made a lot more compact and user friendly. Dodge likens the changes to introducing a 'fishbone-like' structure within the plant, with suppliers connecting directly to the main spine of the assembly line.