Manufacturing processes begin amid product development stages

Moving on from the product development to a stage of car manufacturing. This is the stage when the cars are actually manufactured to be sold across the market. But as a matter of fact, the preparation for car manufacturing has already begun long before the product development processes were completed, back to the period of digital phase of development. For any car development, there are three prerequisites called “QCD” (Quality, Cost, and Delivery). It is about satisfying the Quality (Q) requirements, manufacturing products at the target cost (C), and delivering them in a timely manner (D). It is the core premise for any manufacturing process. Thus, the production team must be closely in touch with the product development team from this early stage.

This time, Nissan Motor will be in charge of product development, but the production remains to be the responsibility of Mitsubishi Motors. Even though Mitsubishi assumes the same role of production, the processes of Mitsubishi production must undergo changes in line with the changes made onto the product development. A new set of processes/methods has to be established which contents are different from both processes/methods which Nissan and Mitsubishi adopts in their existing production scenes. For example, think of a cost evaluation method for components’ supply & procurement; Mitsubishi relies on local procurement while Nissan leverages its globally integrated supply chain network. The mixture of these two methods will require a fundamental review that takes into account not only a simple comparison of unit prices of components but also the logistics costs and procurement speed. In summary, they are replacing the existing production processes/methods of Mitsubishi with a brand-new system. They review Mitsubishi’s product development processes/methods and calibrate Nissan’s expertise and know-how to create completely new sets of processes/methods that are neither Nissan nor Mitsubishi.

NMKV was originally established as a company focused on the product planning and product development management. As the decision was then made to change its roles, NMKV is now engaged in the preparation tasks for car production. NMKV took the initiative in setting up the "Task Team to tackle fundamental issues" from members of the product development and production areas and carried out activities to resolve issues one by one through intensive discussion among its members. Torii COO (Chief Operating Officer) describes the scene as follows: "From Atsugi the members rushed to Mizushima en masse, where they had intensive discussions together face to face. It may seem a reverse style of work to the trend where everyone calls for more efficient offline meetings, but it turned out to be a necessary tool for smooth communication in the end. It was a proof of the true worth of the alliance".

Torii, COO

When the prototype model is completed and the physical phase of product development comes into fruition, the full-scale preparation for production begins. NMKV forms an internal group for the production project to coordinate two parties. In parallel, Mitsubishi Mizushima Plant launches a promotional team under the name of "Mizushima New Kei-Car Promotional Office", which role is to address roadblocks to make the successful on-site preparation and build production processes.