Nissan’s Mock Assembly Lines
Nissan has struggled with quality (particularly in their Mississippi plant), so they are taking some dramatic steps to improve their handoff and collaboration between design and production with a global “mockup line” to test their designs and processes. Rather than relying solely on digital design, they plan on testing processes in the physical world:
Testing production in advance on mock assembly lines may help fine-tune production and improve product quality, says Shozo Takata, science and engineering professor at Waseda University.
“It could serve the purpose of separating problems at the design stage from problems at the production stage,” he said in a telephone interview. “That tends to be meaningful.”
Nissan has acknowledged that quality has sometimes suffered in recent years abroad, including its new U.S. plant in Canton, Mississippi. But Sakai and other Nissan officials are determined to catch potential glitches early in the game.
The lean/Toyota model often teaches us to spend more time and expense in the planning stages, so we can implement/execute more quickly. Having designs worked out in advance instead of having the factory react, adjust, and be heroes can be good for productivity and quality.