Watch Nissan’s Awesome New ‘Intelligent Factory’ Build a Car
Nissan has launched its most advanced production line to date as it works toward creating an emissions-free manufacturing process for its next-generation vehicles. Using the very latest robotic technology, the Nissan Intelligent Factory started operating this week in Tochigi, Japan, about 50 miles north of Tokyo. The automaker shared a video (below) showing off the new facility, which will manufacture vehicles such as the all-new Ariya electric crossover destined for the U.S. in 2022.
As the video shows, the Nissan Intelligent Factory not only builds the vehicle, but also performs incredibly detailed quality checks using robots programmed to search for foreign objects as small as 0.3 mm. Nissan said it built the futuristic factory to create a greener production process while also helping it to deal more effectively with Japan's aging society and labor shortages. The facility is also designed to help it deal "with industry trends in electrification, vehicle intelligence, and connected technologies [that] are making vehicle structure and functionality more advanced and complex," the automaker said.
In the coming years it plans to roll out the Intelligent Factory design to more locations around the world.
Carbon neutrality roadmap
A new roadmap announced by Nissan paves the way to carbon neutrality at its global production plants globally by 2050. It aims to achieve its target by improving energy and material efficiencies at its plants. For example, a newly developed water-based paint allows the metal body and plastic bumper to be painted and baked together, an energy-saving process that Nissan claims cuts CO2 emissions by 25%.
And there's also SUMO (Simultaneous Underfloor Mounting Operation), Nissan's new component-installation process that streamlines a six-part process into a single maneuver, saving even more energy. Additionally, Nissan says that all of the electricity used by its new factory will eventually be generated from renewable energy sources and/or generated with onsite fuel cells that use alternative fuels. It's not clear how many human workers will be replaced by Nissan's new high-tech factory (we're assuming its certified smellers will stay on).
These days, most workers employed at robot-filled car factories are maintaining or fixing equipment, or investigating issues that surface during quality checks. Such positions remain at Nissan's new plant, with personnel working out of the Central Control Room shown in the video. Commenting on Nissan's new facility, Hideyuki Sakamoto, Nissan's executive vice president for manufacturing and supply chain management, said: "The automotive industry is in a period of great change, and solving the global challenge of climate change is urgent."
He added: "By rolling out the Nissan Intelligent Factory initiative globally, starting at the Tochigi plant, we will more flexibly, efficiently, and effectively manufacture next-generation vehicles for a decarbonized society.
We will also continue to drive innovation in manufacturing to enrich people's lives and to support Nissan's future growth."