Small robots replace majority human workers at Nissan's ‘intelligent factory’
Factories are getting more and more automated with time and case in point is Nissan Motor Company's ‘intelligent factory’, that is, its Tochigi plant on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan. The factory hardly has any human workers and small robots carry out work including welding and mounting.
Robots even do paint jobs and inspect their own paint jobs at the Nissan factory. The factory's assembly line is designed to produce all three types of models — electric, e-Power, which has both a motor and an engine, and those powered by regular combustion engine. All these models can be built on the same line. Each vehicle is equipped with the right powertrain as it moves along the line.
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While robots perform these tasks, human workers are able to focus on more skilled work such as analyzing data collected by the robots or on maintaining factory equipment. "Up to now, people had to make production adjustments through experience, but now robots with artificial intelligence, analysing collected data, are able to do it. The technology has developed to that level," Nissan Executive Vice President Hideyuki Sakamoto said during a tour of the production line, AP reported.
Various automakers have been working on robotic technology in order to increase the adaptability on assemble lines and enable them to respond quickly to market demand. Sakamoto added that manufacturing needs to adapt to labour shortages, especially due to coronavirus pandemic.
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Nissan plans to use the technologies being tested in Tochigi at its other global plants as well, including French alliance partner Renault's factories.
Nissan is expecting to get back on the track of profitability in this fiscal year, but it is contending with parts shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The brand took a hit from a scandal centred on its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, who was arrested in Japan on financial misconduct charges in 2018.
(with inputs from AP)