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Nissan continues to innovate car manufacturing with Cisco IoT solutions.
Customer Name: Nissan Motor Co., Ltd
Location: Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa Prefecture
Number of Employees: 131,461
● Utilize robots for automated processes on the factory floor
● Establish IoT-based quality assurance management system
● Strengthen traceability
● Create a stable, reliable, and scalable IoT network
● Nissan’s e-powertrain production line is in the process of being fully automated
● Nissan can now identify equipment failures, and assure production quality
● Improved manufacturing efficiency
● Enabled remote communications
● Continued frontline operation in the face of COVID-19
● Nissan has standardized its network design used at the Tochigi Plant
Nissan Motor Corporation, one of the global leaders in the automotive industry, employs cutting-edge technology so it can continue to define the “future of the automobile manufacturing.” The Japanese car manufacturer, headquartered in Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture, has always been synonymous with innovation. Nissan spearheads new technology developments for electrified, intelligent and connected vehicles, and is always at the forefront of the automotive industry.
In recent years, the industry has undergone dramatic changes. Car functionality as well as advancements to the structure of automobiles, continue to become more and more complex. Re-designing and innovating production processes become a must.
To improve production operations but still maintain traditional craftsmanship into the production process, Nissan has redesigned its powertrain production line for the new crossover electric vehicle, the “Nissan Ariya.” Nissan has also implemented Nissan Intelligent Factory, a next-generation automobile manufacturing concept with Tochigi as the pilot plant.
To make these production efforts a reality, Nissan looked to Cisco IoT solutions for a network that controls and manages this IoT ecosystem and helps enable remote communication.
Nissan set up a new e-powertrain automated production line at its Tochigi Plant, one of its main production sites. An e-powertrain is a power source for electric vehicles that generates electric power but does not use traditional internal-combustion engines.
The goal was to make the production line more intelligent, much like Nissan’s Yokohama Plant. Nissan began digitizing operations at the Tochigi Plant by using lessons learned from the digitization efforts at the Yokohama Plant, specifically in areas around the production of highly complex precision technology used for VC-T engine production. Overall, Nissan wanted a design that would produce “zero defects.”
“We wanted to obtain quality data on a real-time basis and use the same data to analyze trends to help prevent defects before they occur. In addition, we want the person in charge to be notified immediately if any of the equipment malfunctions or if there is an outage so that we might reduce the time the production line is down to a minimum,” explained Masayoshi Chiyoda, Engineer of the Powertrain Production Engineering Department, Nissan.
Nissan then rolled out a high-speed, secure IoT network that can streamline operations to support the e-powertrain production line at the Tochigi Plant. After considering numerous alternative systems, Nissan chose Cisco to build its IoT network.
“Cisco leads the industry as one of the most prominent global network device vendors. Cisco also offers a wealth of different manufacturing solutions that support smart factories. Furthermore, it offers highly advanced technology, and we can be assured that its offerings reflect global best practices.”
Yuichi Murai, Supervisor of the Powertrain Production Engineering Department, Nissan
Since the initial rollout of the Cisco IoT network at the Tochigi Plant, the automated production line has been more reliable and stable. The combination of Cisco IE switches and Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) to oversee and manage the security of devices connected to the IoT network has been critical for behind-the-scenes operations to support the production line.
Cisco IE switches boast high environmental performance and can operate to withstand heat and dust, ensuring that extreme conditions won’t take down the network. In addition, Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) was deployed at the network edge. This made it possible for Nissan to securely manage and control network access, production lines and equipment, creating a secure and highly functional IoT network that can obtain information from the manufacturing equipment terminals that make up the production line.
“Cisco Industrial Ethernet switches helped us create a secure and highly functional IoT network with which we could collect critical operational information from the manufacturing equipment terminals, helping us create a more intelligent production line,” Murai said.
The deployment of the IoT network even brings new opportunities for Nissan around data collection and management. With Cisco’s IoT network, Nissan can improve production quality by collecting and channeling data from hundreds of high-resolution cameras. Capturing this camera data then allows both the IT and operation technology (OT) departments to work together by merging manufacturing-related data from the OT space and information related data from the IT space.
“Data used to improve customer satisfaction and productivity levels must be captured and communicated accurately. A secure, reliable, and highly operable network within the production line itself was needed. We also made the decision to go with Cisco because we felt it was the best choice when considering the need to standardize network designs and roll out uniform, standard policies globally in the future,” said Murai.
Looking ahead, Nissan hopes the IoT rollout of the automated e-powertrain production line will continue to expand.
“We are literally evolving the activities carried out at the Tochigi Plant based on the IoT activities at the Yokohama Plant and improving them. We hope to continue building on and enhance this at the Tochigi Plant. We will analyze data related to quality issues during prototyping and equipment downtime levels during startup,” said Masayoshi Chiyoda, Engineer of the Powertrain Production Engineering Department, Nissan.
The integration of car production and information networks also helped in implementing new working styles at Nissan in response to COVID-19. After the nationwide state of emergency was declared, Nissan took various measures such as shutting down plants and restricting movement between plants and offices. However, as the network had been re-engineered, it was possible to smoothly communicate in a secure environment with team members at domestic and overseas production plants and offices.
As the network continues to evolve and expand, there are plans to quickly standardize network design and implement the same IoT technology at overseas plants and in other production lines.
“The speed of innovation in the digital sphere is so fast that it’s imperative one constantly keep abreast of the latest developments and technologies,” Murai said. “We will continue to improve customer satisfaction levels by brushing up and enhancing our standards.”