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Harbour Report: Nissan Tops In Overall Assembly Productivity

Compiled By Dave Schafer For the seventh consecutive year, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. ranked first in overall assembly productivity among the 10 automotive manufacturers analyzed in the Harbour Report North America 2001, an annual study measuring assembly, stamping, and powertrain productivity performances for automotive manufacturers in North America. Nissan's Smyrna, Tenn., operation was the top-ranked plant in both the car and truck segments. Nissan finished second in car assembly operation and third in truck assembly operation in the 2000 report's hours per vehicle (HPV) rankings. But aided by a 16.5% boost in production, both Smyrna operations finished first in the 2001 rankings and the plant showed an overall 7.1% HPV improvement, says Harbour and Associates, the Troy, Mich.-based consulting and research firm that conducted the study. The industry slowdown at the end of 2000 impacted many manufacturers' performances, Harbour President Ron Harbour says. Overall the report's results prove the factors making companies more competitive in good times are even more critical when times get tougher, he says. "Most of the automotive manufacturers have been working on lean manufacturing, quality, and safety, and improving product and process engineering," Harbour says. "But the reality was some companies were working harder at it -- and better at it -- than others. "With the end-of-the-year slowdown, the companies and plants that were most aggressive in the areas of lean manufacturing, continuous improvement, and other strategic initiatives generally were impacted less in their productivity performances." Other highlights from the report:

  • General Motors Corp. made the most progress from the 2000 report, with six of the 10 most improved assembly operations, including the top four.
  • Among the former Big Three automakers, Ford Motor Co. continued to have the best results in vehicle assembly, with three of the top 10 car plants and five of the top 10 truck plants.
  • Honda Motor Co. Ltd. finished second to Nissan in assembly productivity and was first in stamping and engine-labor productivity.
  • Toyota Motor Corp. was tops in two labor-productivity measures, hits per worker and pieces per worker, and two equipment-productivity measures, hits per hour and pieces per hour.
  • Mitsubishi recorded the biggest company gain in assembly, as its operation in Normal, Ill., achieved a 21.6% improvement.
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