Planning for quality and productivity
A Nissan case study

Page 0: Introduction

Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK Limited (NMUK) is the UK's largest car manufacturing plant which is located near Sunderland. In terms of the number of cars produced annually for every person employed, it has been Europe's most productive car plant for the past seven years. This achievement is no accident. It was designed and planned for from the outset. This case study looks at some of the key...
Read full page

Page 1: Why locate in Sunderland?

One key decision with a car plant is where to locate it. For its UK factory, Nissan chose in 1984 a 300 hectare former airfield near Sunderland. Sunderland's attractions included:a) Skilled labour force Manufacturing has a long tradition in the area. A decline in other local manufacturing meant that skilled labour was readily available. b) CommunicationsSunderland has good road and rail links to...
Read full page

Page 2: Production

Car assembly is a complex operation with many components requiring skilled assembly. For example,That's a crude indication of what is involved. Management are particularly keen to monitor total machine-hours and total labour-hours that each vehicle requires. So far, Nissan has invested over £2.1 billion in the Sunderland site, taking its production capacity to 500,000 vehicles per year...
Read full page

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...
Read full page

Page 4: Total Quality Management

Total Quality Management (TQM) is a key feature of Nissan's way of working. TQM involves making customer satisfaction top priority. Given this goal, everything the organisation and its people do is focused on creating high quality. To achieve this, Nissan has to:understand customer requirementsconsider the processes involved in providing quality, not just the end resultprioritise and standardise...
Read full page

Page 5: Just-in-time technology

With a just-in-time approach, specific vehicles and their components are produced just-in-time to meet the demand for them. Sub-assemblies move into the final assembly plant just as final assemblers are ready to work on them, components arrive just in time to be installed, and so on. In this way, the amount of cash tied up in stocks and in work-in-progress is kept to a minimum, as is the amount of...
Read full page

Page 6: The importance of training

It is vital to train people to work in such a hi-tech industry with such sophisticated quality systems. NMUK's training department conducts a training needs analysis to assess individual employees' needs and to organise training programmes.The department concentrates on five main areas:1. technical development - e.g. teaching skills relating to robotics and electrics, plus the required knowledge...
Read full page

Page 7: Kaizen

Nissan is famously associated with 'Kaizen' or continuous quality improvement. Nissan states: 'We will not be restricted by the existing way of doing things. We will continuously seek improvements in all our actions.'Kaizen can be applied everywhere, any time, any place. It can involve the smallest change in everyday working practice as well as a major change in production technology. Typically...
Read full page

Page 8: Conclusion

Productivity levels at Nissan's plant in Sunderland, and the quality of final production there, have not happened by chance or good fortune. They stem from an all-embracing approach to a production process, designed to bring out the best in both people and machines. It continues to be conspicuously successful.
Read full page

Related: Zurich
Case studies in Business Case Studies


You can download resources for this case study below


Subscribe to our business studies newsletter for current business news including lesson plans and activity ideas.