Business / Auto China

Infiniti's luster: Local production of top luxury

By Hao Nan (China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-19 10:50

One thing that Wang Yuanpo must do before he fires up the paint shop every day is to help his 13 spray robots wear fabric sleeves to keep the dust away. It is one of the innovations at the Infinite's Xiangyang plant, Hubei province, to ensure the locally produced Infiniti Q50L model meets the same high specs as the imported Q50.

The 27-year-old Wang, who was born in a village in Shaanxi province, said he believes exterior finish on a luxury car should have a mirror sheen and "the Infiniti model we are producing also must have such a feature".

Spraying up to 60,000 revolutions a minute, robots at the Infiniti's production base can better atomize the paint. But the high voltage used by robots attract impurities that then pollute the car surface.

"Quality is the DNA of our factory so we cannot tolerate such problem," Wang said. At first, the factory hired a group of cleaners to remove impurities with silk stockings. Wang and his colleagues would also do the same regularly.

Such cleaning was needed when a robot finished spraying 60 cars, which obviously could not meet Infiniti's production needs and stringent quality standards.

Inspiration emerged when Wang saw the cleaners wearing sleeves. With their help, Wang and his colleagues made sleeves with waste anti-static cloth. Dozens of fittings were needed to adjust the size. "The sleeves cannot bind the robot arm too tightly and they must perfectly fit together," he said.

Xiong Tao also fully understands Infiniti's strict quality requirements. "Infiniti has the industry's strictest standards about gaps in the body," said the 37-year-old engineer in the plant. "The least bit of difference determines whether the factory is eligible to create luxury car quality."

Infiniti announced to produce Q50L at the plant in 2012 and an investment of 600 million yuan ($98 million) has been spent in upgrading original equipment and adding world-leading high-tech facilities including Master Eye Plus and Auto Gauge Robot technologies.

Although he has 16 years of production experience, Xiong and his colleagues prepared for more than a year to test and master the equipment. A laser car-frame accuracy system, the first in China, can detect up to 90 points on a welded car body in five minutes.

Also, Master Eye Plus measuring equipment can increase accuracy by moree than 10 times over manual measurements. But automatic equipment cannot handle all the gap measurements, so expertise and skill in frontline workers are also needed. Although time-consuming and laborious, it helps guarantee premium quality.

The plant has 24 so-called Jujiang, or master-level staff members, like Xiong that create world-class quality in localized Infiniti models by continuously challenging themselves.

In early November, the long-wheelbase sports luxury sedan Infiniti Q50L rolled off the production lines at the Xiangyang plant. Daniel Kirchert, president of Dongfeng Infiniti Motor Co, said the local plant "applies Infiniti's global standard, and its rigorous control system in processes and quality ensures the Q50L has the same quality as the imported Q50".

"It reveals Infiniti's strictness in high quality," he added.

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