Product quality is what allows customers to drive their cars in comfort and with peace of mind over a long period.
To enable real improvements in product quality, not only design phase and production phase, but also through robust partnership with suppliers, Nissan is improving its quality component by component. Nissan conducts follow-up inspections on vehicles that have been in the market for several years to gauge their durability.
Reinforce both design and production to cut the number of defects occurring within three months of purchase.
Upgrading design quality
Cars have a vast number of parts. About 65 percent of them have zero defects in the past, and from remaining 35 percent have caused problems. Enhancing design quality before production begins is one crucial way to increase the percentage of products without problems to the maximum level. Increasing the precision of components in the design diagram raises the quality of those that go into mass production.
Nissan uses a method called design review (DR) to develop higher-quality parts. During the DR process, design experts work together to review the potential risks for each parts, and devise ways to prevent problems proactively.
Nissan has adopted a new DR method that allows quicker and more accurate design inspections. This has extensively expanded the DR area, and bolstered the development of more problem-free parts. Certified personnel conduct these quick DR sessions. The number of people with this certification has been gradually increasing worldwide, so we are better able to apply DR to numerous parts.
Pushing production quality higher
Precision testing equipment is an integral part of the production process at every Nissan plant and production line. Digital technology, such as laser measurement, is used to verify precision assembly and paint condition, which are then evaluated through road testing. Our environmental test chambers can accurately reproduce subtle regional differences in temperature extremes of and road conditions. This enables us to scrupulously safeguard against problems flowing out of the factory.
To produce problem-free parts, we carry out inspections at the design diagram stage.
So that we never overlook even the slightest vibration, every parts used in every model undergoes immediate testing.
The Weatherproof vibrator can be calibrated to simulate various temperature and road surface conditions. By testing here, we can proactively prevent road noise and other problems different driving environments can create.
Cutting the defect rate with these preferred suppliers
Nissan's network of parts suppliers is expanding throughout the world. To ensure that we always receive quality parts from them, we apply rankings to each supplier and deal only with the ones that maintain a certain ranking. Nissan is working with these preferred suppliers to cut the defect rate.
Using rapid response to cut the breakdown ratio
A breakdown is a malfunction serious enough to persuade the driver to stop and call for road service assistance. In many cases the car cannot be driven at all. In other instances, the car may be drivable but doing so would be unwise, such as having a window that will not close properly when the weather is extremely cold.
The breakdown ratio in Japan is low, and it is also declining worldwide. In Europe, however, where many people drive for long distances or keep cars for a long time, breakdowns are a serious problem. In 2008, Nissan set up Shift Quality Teams in Germany, France, the U.K., Spain and Russia to monitor these breakdowns. Within twenty minutes of receiving a report of a breakdown, the Nissan team in the country is dispatched to the site to deal with the problem.
The causes and remedies of breakdowns that occur in Europe are immediately incorporated into Nissan car designs worldwide, further reducing the breakdown ratio of Nissan vehicles.
Quick response has cut the countermeasure time for defect parts.
When a Nissan customer's car has to undergo repairs or needs parts replaced, we probe the cause to prevent similar problems. In addition to using improved parts at the factory, we also have to supply the market with replacement parts. We established a system to radically reduce the time from preparing the defect parts to collecing them. Even when the defect rate is low or the causes are difficult to probe, this allows us to resolve problems at an early stage.
Nissan's Field Quality Centers operate flat-out to deal with the following:
- Defects that occur within three months after a car is purchased
- Defect ratio of components obtained from suppliers
- Breakdown ratio
- The time between when a defect occurs in the field until replacement parts are developed.
The above all have one thing in common: they are handled by our Field Quality Centers (FQCs). Three of these centers were established in 2007 in Japan, the U.S. and Europe to respond more rapidly to problems occurring in the field, and FQCs are expanding more and more In other regions. Defect parts are collected from the market quickly and in quantities as large as possible. Nissan design and production staff work with representatives from our suppliers to probe the cause of the problems and come up with solutions. We plan to expand this type of joint analysis into defect parts.
At a Field Quality Center, Nissan design and production staff and supplier representatives investigate the cause together and work out countermeasures.