At a time when car manufacturing plants are being wound down and closed in Australia, the Nissan Casting Plant has grown its business and secured its operation here for the foreseeable future.
A new contract to supply vital EV engine castings for Nissan worldwide has not only ensured the plant will continue to operate – it has seen it return to three shifts, seven days a week.
Since winning the EV contract, production at the plant has increased by 25 per cent over the past month. November was also its strongest month in terms of revenue for more than 10 years.
Nissan is also negotiating with the 192-strong workforce to continue operating in some key areas over the traditional Christmas shutdown period to ensure it meets demand.
It is also on the cusp of signing another contract that will further strengthen its position as one of the only casting plants in the world with the technology and expertise to produce high-tech EV engine parts.
Peter Jones, the CEO of Nissan Casting Australia, which is located in Dandenong in Victoria, was like a proud parent when asked about the factories recent success.
“This is such a great story,” he said at the Nissan Patrol Legend Edition launch in Arkaroola, 600km north of Adelaide.
“Just about 12 months ago the factory was operating on a four-day week and we were encouraging everyone to take time off and catch up on holidays.
“Today we are the only casting manufacturer in the world that can produce, cast and assemble these parts.”
He said it took about nine months to set the factory up so it could produce the parts, and in the numbers required. They also relied on expertise from around the world for the design and construction of the dies and much of the equipment required.
“Nissan has made a large investment in the factory, over $12 million, but it is the expertise and commitment of the people who work in the factory who have made it a success,” Mr Jones said.
“Many of the improved production methods were the result of input by the people who work on the line.”
He said through these changes the Australian factory had the least number of rejections of any casting manufacturer used by Nissan around the world and its warranty claims were only one third of the expected number.
Nissan Casting Australia has the capacity to make 42 different castings, including oil pans, gearbox housings, final drive housings as well as water housings and stator housings for electric motors.
A small Kangaroo cast into the finished product identifies all the components cast in the Australian factory.
It will make 2.3 million castings this year with 100 per cent of them exported to Nissan suppliers and plants in Japan, US, Thailand, UK, South Korea and Mexico.
They will be used in 30 different models from Nissan, Infiniti and Renault with six of those models, including the Nissan Navara, sold in Australia.
Mr Jones said that with the imminent closure of the Holden, Ford and Toyota factories around the country Nissan would be the only OEM manufacturer left in Australia.
Other smaller operations continue to manufacture parts in Australia, of course, including Carbon Revolution in Geelong, Victoria.