Nissan’s new SUMO assembly technique wrestles with EV production

World-first production processes include a high-speed automatic copper wire winder for the Ariya’s motor. Nissan said it is the first example of mass production for an 8-pole motor that ditches the use of permanent magnets to break the dependence on rare earth materials.

Nissan also uses a new process that integrates painting of the Ariya’s steel body and resin bumper panels into one process – cutting down time, complexity and emissions.

Before, the body and bumpers had to be painted separately because they required different baking temperatures. Now, thanks to a newly developed water-based paint that cures at lower temperatures, Nissan can paint them at the same time, cutting energy consumption 25 percent.

Nissan chalked up that breakthrough as another world’s first.

To check the paint job, Nissan has also deployed a new robot-driven automated inspection process that scans the cars with bright zebra lighting. It has the world’s finest eye for defects, Nissan said, spotting flecks of dust no bigger than 0.3-millimeters in diameter. Similar technology previously on the market could only detect defects down to the 0.5-millimeter size, Nissan said.

“This robot is actually replacing the human,” said a manager of the new paint shop. “We actually transplanted human visual recognition capacity into the robot.”

Elsewhere in the Intelligent Factory, Nissan leverages artificial intelligence, advanced connectivity and augmented reality to improve productivity.

The entire final assembly line is wired with sensors and web cameras to monitor the machines at a central control center, where engineers watch a wall of computer monitors looking for problems.

The center uses AI to predict and preempt looming breakdowns in the machines so Nissan can fix them quickly or catch glitches before they even happen.

Meanwhile, trainers have dropped textbooks and videos when bringing new employees onboard.

New teaching tools are mixed reality goggles, which combine virtual reality with augmented reality. When workers strap them on, Nissan says they not only speed up training but do a better job of making the lessons realistic and memorable for employees.

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