The first greenfield plant of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, formally inaugurated on 17 March, has created a benchmark for the Alliance companies in terms of speed of project execution, according to Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of Renault Nissan.
Akira Sakurai, CEO and managing director of Renault Nissan Automotive India Pvt Ltd (RNAIPL), says the trial production of the Micra commenced within 17 months of the groundbreaking held in June 2008.
“This is the shortest term in construction – the plant was commissioned in 21 months from land levelling. We did best benchmarking not only in the Alliance but also in India,” he says. And internally it is the shortest term from installation to process operation.
Interestingly, while the plant was being constructed, the company was concurrently developing vendors to support the project.
Before the plant was inaugurated, the company produced about 60 cars; RNAIPL officials proudly state that the green Micra displayed at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2010 was manufactured at the Chennai facility. Sakurai says, “We are adopting the Alliance New Product Quality Procedure (ANPQP) and implementing supplier capability development activity to local suppliers supported by Nissan.” It not only applied its know-how to support vendors’ capability improvement and preparation procedure but also technical aspects.
The company has developed 97 suppliers in India with about 50 percent of located in Chennai. About 30 percent of the vendors are in Delhi 10 percent each in Bangalore and Pune. At present six suppliers have set up shops at the supplier park of RNAIPL – Lear Tacle (seats), Unipress Indn (body parts), Motherson Sumi Systems (wiring harness) Tenneco Exhaust India (exhaust, muffler etc), Tieter Nittoku India (floor carpet) and Posco (steel). Currently 85 percent of parts are locally produced and sourced by suppliers based in India.
Usually the newest plants are always the most efficient due to deployment of best practices garnered over a period of time from facilities in different locations. This is the case with RNAIPL. For instance the stamping XL/L line was planned with the highest production output while the body shop is built with more flexibility. It has installed an automated transfer system in the stamping line to minimise human intervention, which is similar to the company’s plants in Japan, Europe and the US.
Renault Nissan has taken the simple approach to manufacturing. The assembly lines, to a large extent, are kept straight to enhance throughput thereby minimising inventories. The company introduced the Alliance Integrated Manufacturing System (AIMS) methodology right from the conceptual stage of building the factory. “We will develop this to other Alliance plants – Tangier (Morocco) and other new plants,” he says. AIMS gives flexibility to the company in the vehicle assembly line, enabling it to make four different platforms in eight shapes and at random production schedules. Besides, it also has helped to optimise takt time.
AIMS also helped RNAIPL minimise floor space by eliminating separate lines for each platform. Productivity is also enhanced due to flexible lines that minimise losses due to merging production volumes. It also helps maintain high efficiency and reliability by standardisation and integration of manufacturing processes. “We have several modules; we can optimise our capacity and efficiency in line with the requirements. And we can easily increase capacity,” says Sakurai.