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Nissan uses Lanner WITNESS simulation software to optimise its new £100 million production plant in St. Petersburg, due to open in 2009, increasing production capacity to 50,000 vehicles per year.


In 2009 Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. will establish a £100 million production plant in St. Petersburg, Russia. Moscow currently plays host to Nissan Motor Rus (NMR), the group’s Russian national sales company since 2003. NMR currently employs 100 staff and its function is to distribute Nissan vehicles and parts across the Russian dealer network, which currently comprises 30 sales outlets.

Since its inauguration in 2003, sales of Nissan motor vehicles have increased from 9,470 units to over 50,000 by 2006. Taking into account increased demand as well as predictions that the Russian car market will be worth £50 billion by 2011, Nissan started work on plans to create its very first production plant in Russia to optimise its potential profit margins and to satisfy consumer demand.

The plant will employ around 750 people with a planned capacity of up to 50,000 units annually. The plant will produce a variety of vehicles specifically for the Russian market including the X-Trail 4x4 cars and Teana saloons.


Launching a new plant in an unfamiliar country relies on expertise and experience gained from existing operations across the globe. The new Russian team sought guidance from the team at Sunderland-based Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd, (NMUK). NMUK is the largest car plant in the United Kingdom and is regularly recognised as the most productive in Europe.

The Russian team travelled to NMUK to learn valuable skills, in particular, how to optimise production efficiency in order to fulfill production quotas.

Simulation as a solution

Using Lanner’s WITNESS simulation suite, NMUK produced a model of the St Petersburg paintshop using CAD and performance data to demonstrate to the Russian team and paintshop developers Durr, how simulation technology could drive production at the new paintshop at the new site.

The WITNESS model enabled users to visualise how to control the flow of vehicle production in the paintshop. When vehicles are in the paintshop they undertake a process of being spray painted, which includes sealants for joints, and then they are placed in an oven to dry.

Anthony Timmiss, Engineer at NMUK, who designed the WITNESS model for the St. Petersburg paintshop, comments: “It is vital that cars are put in and taken out of the oven at the correct time otherwise the quality of finish is compromised, and that can be very costly. This leaves paintshop operatives with a huge headache as they are tasked with producing a considerable amount of vehicles, but are also required to make sure mistakes in production are minimal when doing so.”


Simulation technology is used to optimise production and to eradicate issues surrounding workflow in the paintshop Nissan required a software solution that would guarantee the smooth transition of vehicle production. Lanner’s WITNESS is able to achieve this with a high level of precision. By creating a model of the new St Petersburg plant, NMUK identified throughput capability, bottlenecks, utilisations and the necessary control required.

The new paintshop, as with any equipment that is used frequently, will develop faults from time to time, which could potentially halt production. By running the WITNESS model with this data accurately factored in, the Russian employees were able to see the consequences of any unplanned event or problem. WITNESS is able to calculate and show the effect for a wide range of reliability scenarios and enable the correct robust decisions to be taken.

By using WITNESS software to design a model of the Russian plant before it begins production, Nissan’s Russian team are able to future gaze events before they have taken place. This is invaluable as it eradicates potential mistakes and inaccuracies in production methods, which means the paintshop team can be confident that they start on the right footing, enabling them to meet their targets from day one.

Anthony Timmiss comments: 

"It is exciting times for Nissan with the launch of the new assembly plant at St. Petersburg. The Russian automotive market has seen huge growth in the last few years and this is expected to increase significantly in the next three or four years. Russia’s appetite for Nissan cars has grown in line with market growth so it is imperative that Nissan are able to supply to demand straight away. In order for this to happen it was vital that the new Russian team were given the very best technological advancements to maximise production at the new plant.”
“Having successfully used Lanner’s WITNESS at the Sunderland plant to drive production of the Qashqui model, Nissan decided to implement the simulation technology at St. Petersburg to help fulfil production of 50,000 cars. WITNESS is ideal as it is easy to implement and use, cost effective and offers highly accurate predictions.”

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