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Sunderland plant gets laser treatment

Japanese car maker Nissan is expcting to cut more than half a million pounds off the manufacturing costs of each future model built at Sunderland by using a laser beam to measure panels.

Currently, panels are fixed into specially built gauges and then drilled - an accurate, but time-consuming process. Nissan's new 'Model Maker' will provide data to create an electronic replica.

The system takes 14,000 readings a second and can scan an entire panel in less time than it takes to drill the panel in the old way. The electronic model is analysed to see how closely it matches the original CAD design data and its specification.

If the match is not close enough, Sunderland's quality assurance team can let the production shop know what changes need to be made. Training in the use of the £123,000 machine is currently underway, and the technique is being applied for the first time to the next generation Primera from the end of the year.

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