Roles of Mizushima new kei-car promotional office - securing the area between "third baseman and shortstop

Mizushima Plant, Mitsubishi Motors

It was in June 2017; with just a few steps left to the completion of the digital phase, “Mizushima New Kei-car Promotional Office (hereinafter referred to as "Promotional Office") was launched. The Promotional Office is run by three leaders assigned from the members who assume positions equivalent to that of general managers at NMKV's production projects, Mitsubishi's product merchandising projects, and Mizushima Plant's administrative department. The basic role of Promotional Office is to gather together the specifications related to the new model’s manufacturing, definitions of processes, and construction plans adopted by Nissan and Mitsubishi. Inevitably differences between wo companies emerge from the perspective of their organization setup and sub-processes in their workflow, leading to the critical void in the process. The mission is to build a common standard model for processes across product development and manufacturing phases which will maximize the capabilities of both parties, so that it will prevent a baseball flying through an empty spot between "third baseman and shortstop" in a baseball match.

The activities in the first half of such mission include examining the differences between two companies’ processes and to review potential solutions that deemed efficient, toward the milestone of assembling the vehicle at stationary spot (the final assembly lot before line-assembled production). At the same time, it becomes essential to identify every element necessary for the physical phase to eliminate any occurrence of omitted or skipped process. The members spent their days going back and forth between Nissan and Mitsubishi plants, serving as facilitators who interpret the information in diagrams provided from Nissan's product development department and deliver it to Mitsubishi's production department.

Nishiyama, CPEO

The biggest challenge was in the disclosure of one's technical capability standard and specifications. Even in an alliance relationship, there is a kind of information not properly disclosed to each other. "In such cases, the members of Promotional Office gathered to have discussions in Mizushima or Atsugi many times a month, to make necessary arrangements for the disclosure of the standards of both parties. It was a painstaking task to accomplish", recalled Nishiyama CPEO (Chief Production Engineering Officer).

The result of such hard work was phenomenal. Rationalization through radical disclosure of their production processes was comprehensive, which includes rigorous process integration, a fewer decision-making meetings and more effective indicators. By thoroughly streamlining and standardizing the processes of both parties and making them visible, a new standard model for product development and production is being created, as a paragon of the successful alliance. "I think our approach may be applicable to other types of vehicles, beyond Kei-cars", says Nishiyama CPEO. The outcome and effectiveness of this approach is also evident from the high level of quality achieved on the test models amid the prototyping phase.

When the trial production stage is completed, Mizushima Plant leads the lot production. The same exercise repeats itself, where it continues to look for any potential issues, to serve as a facilitator between the parties and to make necessary arrangements. From this point on, it will involve Nissan's production department into the activities. In this manner, every parties are getting closer to a day it begins the full-scale production, step by step.