Nissan UK uses TV to improve assembly quality

Assembly Automation

ISSN: 0144-5154

Article publication date: 1 June 2005




Kochan, A. (2005), "Nissan UK uses TV to improve assembly quality", Assembly Automation, Vol. 25 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Nissan UK uses TV to improve assembly quality

Nissan UK uses TV to improve assembly quality

Keywords: Assembly, Cameras

Nissan's car plant in Sunderland, UK has improved the quality of its door assembly processes by using TV cameras to assist operators working in “blind” spots (Plate 1). The company claims that the number of quality concerns has fallen by 85 per cent due to the cameras providing operators with clear and enlarged images of the window seals they are mounting. The savings through reduced off-line repairs represent a significant advantage, says Colin Carr, Kaizen Supervisor at Nissan. “When there was a defect in the past, we would have to strip the door down to some extent so that we could move the seal around and correct its position. Now the operators get it right first time on almost every door,” he reports.

Plate 1 TV cameras assist operators working in “blind spots” at Nissan's car plant in Sunderland

Colin Carr is in charge of Kaizen (continuous improvement) activities for the trim and chassis shop that builds the Nissan Primera and Almera models. In this full-time role, his main task is to design, build and implement tools and processes that will bring about productivity or quality improvements, or facilitate operators' jobs. “We look for a productivity improvement of about 3 per cent per year,” he comments.

On the Almera, the window seal that guides the glass up and down is visible from the outside of the car. If it is not fitted properly and there are gaps, then customer satisfaction is clearly compromised. The difficulty of fitting the seals on the doors is that the operator has to do it “blind”. This is because when the cars arrive at the trim and chassis shop, the doors are removed from the vehicles. They are carried down their own assembly line, which is arranged in such a way that all the operations to fit out the doors are performed from the internal side of the door. So the operator who is fitting the seal cannot see how it looks from the outside.

In the past, the Nissan engineers had mounted mirrors in strategic places to assist the operators on the seal fitting task but they tended to get dirty and scratched, and were not extremely effective. “There's always some deflection with mirrors, and they were not as accurate as we would have liked”, comments Carr. One of the great benefits of the TV camera is that it can zoom in on the specific area of concern and create a clear and enlarged image that really helps the operator, he adds.

In the new installation at Sunderland, the TV camera and flat screen are mounted on a shuttle system that attaches itself to the door carrier at the start of the seal fitting station. It travels 5.5m down the door assembly line with the door carrier and then detaches itself, by the time the door seal assembly operation should have been completed. The shuttle then returns automatically to the start of the station and attaches itself to the next door carrier coming along the line. The camera is preset and focused on the corner of the window to show the most critical part of the seal assembly operation.

The first system was installed in September followed by a second one in November. One is for Almera front doors; the other for rear doors. According to Carr, each one cost less than £10,000 with the flat screen display and the camera accounting for more than half the investment. As well as reducing the number of quality issues, the new TV system will also speed up the operator training. Instead of relying on the operator skill levels that have been built up over a very long time, Nissan will be able to train new operators more easily and more quickly, says Carr.

Anna KochanAssociate Editor

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