Nissan is testing an «Intelligent Factory» concept in Japan
The robots use AI to adjust themselves and correct mistakes
The only employees present are analysts and maintenance workers
For many years, automation has reduced the number of workers needed to build cars by using robots to complete the most difficult or tedious jobs on the assembly line, but Nissan is now testing a program that could replace almost all of the employees on the factory floor.
A multitude of new robots have been installed at Nissan’s Tochigi plant, north of Tokyo, as part of the conversion process needed to ready the installations for the production of the upcoming Ariya electric SUV.
Those robots can do almost every step of the assembly process on their own, including painting the vehicles and inspecting the finish to detect any imperfections.
The machines also use artificial intelligence in order to learn from their mistakes and make adjustments to improve their performance.
The assembly line is setup to be able to produce electric vehicles as well as hybrids and gasoline powertrains in the same place, without necessitating different stations for each or a lengthy changeover period between the different types, thus increasing production and profits.
This factory, which is expected to begin regular production by April of 2022, only requires employees to survey the data collected by the robots as well as a maintenance team that works to keep all the machines running smoothly.
The automaker is considering implementing similar solutions in its other plants in Asia and Europe, possibly also extending to Renault’s factories, since the two companies are in an alliance.
Reducing the number of employees would obviously save costs for automakers, but it would also allow them to continue production during labor shortages such as the ones caused by the pandemic during the last year.