SMYRNA, Tenn. — The Nissan plant here has been named the nation’s most efficient automobile factory for the third year in a row, with some help from the University of Tennessee.
Dr. John Hungerford and the late Dr. John Snider of UT-Knoxville’s industrial engineering department in 1994 checked the plant’s ergonomics, which is how machines are designed to interact safely and effectively with humans.
They recommended hiring more people to oversee ergonomics operations, creating a company ergonomics manual and establishing training programs.
Harbour and Associates, a manufacturing management consultant in Troy, Mich., has recognized Nissan for three years as the most efficient U.S. auto plant.
“One of the most favorable things UT did was point out that we needed full-time people dedicated to ergonomics,” said Kerry Dove, the plant’s safety and medical manager. “Their study probably helped us get those people in here sooner than we would have otherwise.
“We wanted somebody from the outside to come in and tell us something. UT has a lot of credibility and we had confidence in them.”
The plant has hired two full-time ergonomics engineers in response to the UT study, Dove said.
“They already had a lot of good things in place when we were asked to review the plant,” Hungerford said. “They wanted UT to give an outside assessment. We were impressed by what we saw with the ergonomics of their workplace.
“We found no major problems. We mostly suggested fine-tuning or strengthening some things that Nissan already had in place,” he said.
Contact:Dr. John Hungerford (423-974-7650) or Dr. Hal Aiken (423-974-3333)