Nissan's Colin Dodge: "The factory within a factory is the ultimate lean production system."
Other parts makers will join Karmann inside the plant as Nissan pushes to boost the plant's production 25 percent to 400,000 units by adding three models by late 2006.
Magna Kansei and Calsonic Kansei will be inside the plant when production of the Tone small minivan starts in January.
Positioned along the assembly line, Magna Kansei will supply cockpit modules and Calsonic Kansei will provide front-end modules. The production start in December 2006 of the crossover based on the Qashqai concept, code-named P32L, likely will see more suppliers enter the Nissan factory.
"The factory within a factory is the ultimate lean production system conceivable," says 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 Corp. is believed to be close to a location decision for a new 100,000-square-foot plant in Sunderland.
Local industrial real estate specialists claim that five or six more suppliers are looking for sites ranging 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," says Trevor Mann, deputy managing director of Nissan Motor Manufacturing U.K.
Dodge says he also wants to see the current minimal inventory reduced further and the dozens of daily delivery truck movements around the plant eliminated. To facilitate the change, existing main production lines will be shortened and individual stations will be made more compact and user-friendly. Dodge likens the changes to introducing a "fishbonelike" structure within the plant, with suppliers connecting directly to the main spine of the assembly line.