Magazine article Management Today

NSK Bearing Europe

Magazine article Management Today

NSK Bearing Europe

Article excerpt

NSK, the world's second largest manufacturer of bearings, opened its Peterlee plant in 1976 when Japanese factories were still comparatively rare even in the North-East. As a result of dedication to quality and cost control, this has grown into a complex operation which employs 700 people and produces over eight million bearings every month. Customers include newer Japanese arrivals in Europe, such as Toyota, Nissan and Honda, as well as native Europeans like Rover, Ford, Volkswagen and Bosch.

The layout suggests a single-minded pursuit of efficiency without paying any homage to dogma. Cells and transfer machines are blended together with conventional functional departments in a drive to achieve maximum volumes at minimum cost: `value added productivity', in the words of bearings division director Richard Coitino. Conventionally enough, drawings, photographs and samples are positioned at each stage of the process to give visual aid to operators. For the same reason, machine tools have flashing lights attached, alerting supervisors and others as to their operating status.

One of the classic problems of bearing manufacture is that of matching balls to inners and outers to achieve the necessary tolerance. …

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