The automotive industry will see more change in the next 10 years than in the past 50. The radical evolution of the sector is going to force us, from the point of view of manufacturing, to greater flexibility, as well as to a greater speed to bring the customisation and technology that it demands to the client. We must also do it in a sustainable way.
First, customers are more demanding than ever. We have to respond to their demands in the new forms of ownership (shared vehicle) and in the use of zero emission vehicles.
Secondly, the automotive sector is facing the emergence of new technologies (electric vehicle, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, e-power and autonomous), so we must move quickly so as not to fall behind.
Finally, the relationship between customers and brands is also changing. Trust and authenticity are more important now than ever. Customers want to identify with brands that share similar values.
The automotive sector must address great external challenges, including the emergence of new technologies and services, new demands from customers and the need to increase flexibility in production plants
Our vision of Nissan Intelligent Mobility is the strategic response to the great external challenges described above. But in this response Nissan not only takes into account the demands of the market and customers from the perspective of marketing and sales, but also from the point of view of manufacturing. Therefore, what can we do from our productive facilities to successfully overcome these mentality changes?
The Sharework project and the vision of Nissan’s factory of the future
Nissan Barcelona is opening its innovation ecosystem to multiple agents abroad. The company currently collaborates with more than 230 actors –startups, universities, technology centers, clusters, investors, among others – in their industrial operations in Barcelona. This innovation program itself is aligned with the strategy of Nissan Europe, whose center is the Innovation Lab of Nissan Europe, located in Paris.
Sharework is one of the drivers and most ambitious projects within the innovation ecosystem in our Barcelona plant. With the support of Eurecat and the other members of the consortium, this research project will be a pioneer in the development of future collaborative robots within the automotive industry to improve the industrial operations.
Today collaborative robots are used to load small parts or execute operations without direct interaction with operators. However, the next generations of robots will be safer, sensitive and flexible, which will allow them to work side by side with employees. Specifically, the Sharework project will allow “traditional” robots to load large parts and perform operations together with workers without physical barriers, thus helping operators to carry out the assembly operations of said components in a correct ergonomic position and simplest way.
The next generation of collaborative robots will be able to load large parts and perform operations in a shared space with workers
Such technology would be a milestone in the automotive sector, so focused on productivity, since it could be implemented in countless assemblies within the production process. This will contribute not only to cost optimisation but also to improve the ergonomic quality of the job.
Sharework project deployment at the Barcelona plant
We are currently implementing the Sharework project at the Barcelona plant. It is a work in which the Engineering, Human Resources and Communication teams collaborate and that seek the understanding of this technology by the employees, who will progressively adapt to its operation and its integration into the production process.
In the implementation of Sharework technology into NISSAN’s Barcelona plant, employees are put in the centre of the process
In this sense, the work of Human Resources is fundamental so that the operators can “blend in” with the collaborative robots and get to internalise how this technology can benefit them in their workplace. Without a doubt, this challenge is one of the most important that the company has at the moment.
Pablo Rodriguez Velasco
Project Engineer at Nissan Motor Iberica, working on strategy studies at assembly shop. MSc Industrial and Operations Engineering at University of Vigo. MSc in Automotive engineering at University of Vigo.