Planning for quality and productivity
A Nissan case study

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Page 3: Flow production

Nissan's Sunderland plant is technically highly advanced. It uses sophisticated robotics and computer integrated manufacturing techniques to create a carefully monitored production process that reduces errors to an absolute minimum.

Automated machines can only do so much however; the human element remains vital. Organising an effective flow of production at Nissan has involved developing a way of doing things and an attitude towards work based on giving responsibility to employees at every step. This approach raises employees' morale, and reduces absenteeism, which could severely impact on continuous flow production.

Nissan expects and requires its employees to become multi-skilled decision makers. Most employees also want that for themselves. Reaching that goal involves:

  • training employees to develop their skills
  • encouraging them to make decisions
  • organising employees into participative teams
  • developing open-channel, multi-directional communication systems
  • placing quality at the heart of flow production
  • flexible working practices
  • providing the employee variety within his/her role.

The open communication policy includes daily face to face meetings between management and employees, a company council, employee surveys, and employees having ready access to the company's intranet system.

The emphasis placed on 'going for quality' means that each employee is responsible both for their own work and the standards of their co-workers. By ensuring management recognises that individuals have this control results in everyone taking the culture on board.

'Going for quality' emphasises 'building good quality in' rather than 'inspecting poor quality out'. Each employee controls quality by checking that the previous job has been done properly.

Nissan | Planning for quality and productivity