Digital twins are becoming increasingly popular in the automotive sector, opening open up opportunities to provide vital insights, evaluate ideas and improve efficiency.
At its UK manufacturing site, Nissan is using digital twins and predictive simulation to optimise operations on the factory floor.
|Challenge||Facing manufacturing bottlenecks at various stages of the production cycle, managers at Nissan’s UK plant wanted to gain new levels of insight into its processes to improve efficiency and identify new opportunities.|
|Solution||Nissan has adopted digital twins using the WITNESS predictive simulation platform to identify the cause of bottlenecks, establish solutions, and optimise the efficiency of its manufacturing processes.|
|Accurate knowledge helps fulfil demand and meet KPIs||£22,000 savings on pallet procurement||Saved £25,000 on capital expenditure|
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. is an award-winning Japanese automobile manufacturer with operations in the UK. The company sells cars under the Nissan, Infiniti, and Datsun brands – all of which are household names around the world.
Nissan recognises the power of digital technology for identifying new efficiencies in its processes, reducing troublesome bottlenecks, and uncovering potential investment opportunities at its UK site.
The Nissan team has applied digital twins in a number of cases to create value with their predictive power.
For example, they were used to calculate the optimum investment levels for a new bumper-painting facility, the required capacity of the site’s pre-storage area, and the packaging requirements needed to support engine transportation from Sunderland to Spain.
Nissan also used a digital twin to identify the cause of congestion in its Painted Body Store – and, more importantly, to find a solution. The predictive digital twin showed that simple adjustments to Work in Progress levels, and a new process flow for the slings that carry car bodies through the store, could reduce the bottlenecks in this part of the production process.
After applying these changes in the real world, not only were bottlenecks avoided, but further obstructions later in the production line – specifically in the Trim and Chassis lines – were also removed.
Another similar project saw Nissan use simulation technologies to improve the manufacturing process control logic in its White Body Store – again reducing bottlenecks in both body shops and paint shops, and bringing new levels of efficiency to its production processes.
“WITNESS has helped us develop models which are now used regularly to make business decisions across Nissan in the UK. Thanks to the modelling, we’ve been able to implement steady improvements in our processes, and simulation has become a key part of Nissan’s adoption of Industrial IoT and smart technology.”
Martin perkins, Industrial Engineer, Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK
Digital twins have also helped support cost savings across Nissan’s Sunderland site. By twinning the cylinder head machining line, the team was able to run various scenarios for different pallet volumes, analyzing factors such as inputs, tack time and volumes.
The model showed that the line needed only 70 pallets – well below the team’s initial estimate of 100 – saving £22,000. Elsewhere in the factory, the team wanted to assess whether it needed a new paint guard film station to handle the predicted demand for its new Infiniti car model. Using a predictive digital twin, it realised that the existing facilities would handle the expected volume – which meant Nissan avoided an unnecessary £25,000 capital expenditure. Next to these cost and process efficiencies, there have been numerous intangible benefits, too. Nissan’s business leaders have a better understanding of its production processes; it’s easier to communicate new ideas with the support of accurate, timely data; and the ability to simulate new projects and scenarios provides the confidence needed to challenge previously accepted practices.
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