Getting Nissan quality right from the start: Nissan's chief product planner talks about infusing quality into the product before it's made, the importance of a consistent "feel" and the limits of platform sharing."In the product planning Product Planning is the ongoing process of identifying and articulating market requirements that define a product’s feature set. See also
n. 1. Same as Lorry, or Lorrie. Dominique Dom·i·nique also Dom·i·nick
One of a breed of American domestic fowl having gray, barred plumage, yellow legs, and a rose-colored comb.
Noun 1. , vice president, Product Planning, Nissan Noun 1. Nissan - the seventh month of the civil year; the first month of the ecclesiastic year (in March and April)
Hebrew calendar, Jewish calendar - (Judaism) the calendar used by the Jews; dates from 3761 BC (the assumed date of the Creation of the North America North America, third largest continent (1990 est. pop. 365,000,000), c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere. . The PQ portion of the equation rests squarely square·ly
1. Mathematics At right angles: sawed the beam squarely.
2. In a square shape.
3. in Dominique's group, and has evolved over the past five years such that a fairly rigorous set of goals are created for each vehicle that Nissan brings to market. "Every vehicle has a quality target," he says, "but we can't just dump it on the engineers and manufacturing guys and hope it happens. We have to work with them from the start of the process to make sure we hit our goals."
Dominique admits to not being a PQ expert, but to employing a large team of them. Together these engineers, product planners, and designers take the targets set for 22 separate attributes and begin their evaluations at the clay model stage. "They can give an assessment of how the finished vehicle will look, especially in terms of fit and finish, at this stage," he says. "They may tell you that the design will not work as presented, or they will critique the switch placement, and these elements will be refined as the program progresses." Much of this work is conducted at the digital review stage, and involves a full review of the chosen materials and processes. "Once the design is set," says Dominique, "we look at how to transition to executing to that perceived quality goal, and that means working very closely with the engineers."
Dominique readily admits that Nissan was heavily criticized for the interior quality of the vehicles introduced between 2001 and 2003, and rightly so. This pushed the PQ group to expand the virtual phase of the program for the simple reason that adding supports or making material changes at this stage costs nothing. "It's it's
1. Contraction of it is.
2. Contraction of it has. See Usage Note at its.
it's it is or it has
it's be ~have still not a fully refined process," he admits, "but it has allowed us to make a big step forward in quality in our latest vehicles, and what we've learned from the process thus far will be integrated into our next generation of vehicles."
The targets the PQ group aims for are corporate in nature, and demand that he first gets a sign-off from his North American North American
named after North America.
North American blastomycosis
see North American blastomycosis.
North American cattle tick
see boophilusannulatus. bosses before taking these results to Japan for global approval. "There can be variations because of the different expectations you find in different regions," he says, "but it's unacceptable to miss the target. That gives us a lot of momentum to invest the money to reach the goal rather than save 50 cents. We have to hit that number." On one recent program, the program director didn't want to spend the money necessary to coat the part of the exhaust system Noun 1. exhaust system - system consisting of the parts of an engine through which burned gases or steam are discharged
automobile engine - the engine that propels an automobile visible from directly behind the car. "It detracted from the appearance of the car, so--with executive approval--we added a dollar to coat that piece so it looked better," he says.
This isn't to say that the look of the exhaust system is one of the 22 PQ items the team studies. It is, in fact, one of hundreds of data points that make up the 22 targets. "It's possible," says Dominique, "to have 15 points under one of those main headings, and to have one of those points under that heading not be met yet still reach the aggregate necessary to move forward." That's because the data points are under continuous review and the weighting changes based on in which segment and category the vehicle competes. "There are certain expectations customers in each segment have, and we break those main attributes down and weight them based on these expectations," says Dominique. This means that vehicles in different segments are judged by different standards, Nissan and Infiniti vehicles are measured differently than their competitors based on customer expectations for the brand, and--in the future--the gap between the Nissan and Infiniti brands will be wider. "The tactile tactile /tac·tile/ (tak´til) pertaining to touch.
1. Perceptible to the sense of touch; tangible.
2. Used for feeling.
3. response of Infiniti switches will be different than for our Nissan products," says Dominique, "and how these same switches react compared to a Mercedes will be different as well. It will be what a customer expects of the Infiniti brand."
Part of this change is being driven by Nissan's global launch of the Infiniti brand. "No matter where you drive a BMW BMW
in full Bayerische Motoren Werke AG
German automaker. Founded as an aircraft engine manufacturer in 1916, the company assumed the name Bayerische Motoren Werke and became known for its high-speed motorcycles in the 1920s. , it feels pretty much the same. We want the same for Infiniti and Nissan as well," says Dominique. That doesn't mean there won't be Europe-specific, Japan-specific, or North America-specific Infiniti and Nissan models. It does mean, however, that a customer from any of those regions would be able to tell instantly that the car he was driving belonged in the Nissan or Infiniti stable. That will be easier in the future, he says, because there will be less sharing between the two brands. For example, the Infiniti QX56 and Nissan Armada The Nissan Armada (formerly called the Pathfinder Armada) is Nissan's full-size sport utility vehicle. It shares its body-on-frame F-Alpha platform with the Nissan Titan pickup truck, Nissan Xterra SUV, Nissan Frontier pickup truck, and Nissan Pathfinder SUV. share a platform today, "in the next generation they won't." Yet Dominique sees a future with myriad Myriad is a classical Greek name for the number 104 = 10 000. In modern English the word refers to an unspecified large quantity.
The term myriad is a progression in the commonly used system of describing numbers using tens and hundreds. vehicles off a common platform selling 50,000 to 100,000 vehicles per year--or less. "The number of vehicles in this volume range is skyrocketing," he says, "but it doesn't increase the amount of research my team must do." In part that's because the vehicle is separate from the platform at the concept stage. "I don't care
"Don't Care" is a 1994 (see 1994 in music) single by American death metal band Obituary. what the platform is," he says firmly. "It's Engineering's job to find a design solution for me."
At times, there isn't a simple solution and a new platform must be considered. "We don't want to invest $500-million on a new platform for one vehicle," he imparts. "It's not cost-effective cost-effective,
n the minimal expenditure of dollars, time, and other elements necessary to achieve the health care result deemed necessary and appropriate. , and it doesn't make sense." However, that may change rapidly if the vehicles loaded into the five-year product cycle and changing global requirements can benefit. "When we need to go unique, I go up through the product planning process and the executive committee either approves the investment or they don't based on the return on investment." And the process begins again.
Christopher A. Sawyer
by Christopher A. Sawyer