If you have ever been to a chocolate factory as a kid, you will understand what an auto enthusiast visiting a car or motorcycle manufacturing facility will feel like. It is indeed a pleasure to watch the very cars and bikes that you see on the road, made right in front of your eyes. The smell of the fresh paint, waft of newly-made upholstery and best of all, the heart of the car being put in and fired for the first time. I got to experience all this recently at the Renault-Nissan plant in Oragadam, Chennai. The visit lasted four-five hours but left an indelible impression in my mind. Especially so because I saw the new Nissan Magnite, a compact SUV that I seem to have developed a liking to recently, being made. I could also witness other Renault-Nissan cars being made, especially the now-discontinued Sunny being produced for left-hand drive export markets.
Renault Nissan Automotive India Private Limited was established in the year 2005. Per annum, the plant can manufacture up to five lakh cars. Both the partners claim to have equal space for their cars here. Mitsubishi too has been offered space here but then as you are aware, the state of things at the company aren’t on track yet. Not even the so-called deal with the Jamshedpur manufacturer that we reported a few months ago. The plant layout is in a straight fashion, something that allows Renault and Nissan to have easy access to the various processing sheds. Many of the parts suppliers also set shop within the factory, thereby allowing easy access to components.
There is first the stamping shop. Here is where all the steel is processed as well as stamped. It is then molded into such a fashion that doors, and other trims of the cars be made. Three shifts are operational in the stamping shop. Here, car parts of now-discontinued models like the Nissan Sunny, Micra are also made. Over the years, RNAIPL has increased the number of dyes used here. In a minute, 15 car parts are made and each of them goes through an inspection before it is passed on to the next shed – Body Shop.
At the Body Shop, again there are three lines. An accuracy of 95 per cent is maintained while manufacturing these parts. We were also shown how the sealer robots work. Here, both the Kwid as well as redi-Go models have manual fitting whereas the other cars like the Triber, Go get automated robots to assemble their parts. Once the parts are made, they are then sent to the paint shop for obvious reasons.
Unfortunately, our batch couldn’t get to see the paint shop at work. However post the paint shop work is done, the parts are then sent to the Trim and Chassis line. Here, the painted body parts finally take the shape of the desired car. Most of these operations are automated right down to the torque required for putting in each bolt and screw. However, if the robots detect that a particular bolt hasn’t been put in the basis of the required torque, then the entire assembly line stops and the lights above it flash to indicate the error and in which section. Once it is fixed, things start rolling out smoothly, again.
The final part is the powertrain. This is an area that is not only pressurised but also dust-proof. Here the engines are assembled and then they are also tested for leakage, NVH and various other parameters. The quality-checked engines are then taken to the final car roll-out point, where they are fitted. Here is where you get to see a gleaming new car take life.
Of course, there are other procedures like testing the car on various surfaces for compatibility and then finally it is parked in the open grounds. Thereafter, depending on the requirement, it is loaded onto the waiting truck trailers and delivered to the dealer stockyards.
Since the Nissan Magnite is an in-demand product, an extra shift has been started for it. We could see many new Nissan Magnite cars standing in the parking lot, waiting for their new homes.
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