Magazine article Security Management

Nissan and the Security Zone

Magazine article Security Management

Nissan and the Security Zone

Article excerpt


It may not be the Maginot Line, but the Tennessee-California line at Nissan carries some significance of its own. This imaginary line at the Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corporation U.S.A. in Smyrna, TN, represents the point at which the vehicles manufactured there become the property--and the security concern--of the sister company in charge of sales, Nissan Motor Company in U.S.A., which is based in California.

This unique situation came about in 1980 when Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. announced its decision to establish a US manufacturing plant 15 miles southeast of Nashville. The plant now manufactures 1,000 vehicles a day, which are considered the property of the Tennessee plant until they are completed (thus crossing the line) and ready to be shipped to dealers. With more than half the US population within 500 miles of the Tennessee manufacturing facility, cars and trucks move quickly and economically to sales showrooms. The vehicles are also considered to be within a foreign trade zone until they leave Nissan grounds, which means Nissan in Tennessee must comply with federal customs regulations.

"It's like being inside a customs area in any international airport," explains Wess Smith, manager of safety, medical, and security for Nissan. "We have to follow stricter security requirements than an ordinary manufacturing facility does because we are a trade zone."

Before the facility was even constructed, a core group of 400 employees went to Japan to learn how Nissan builds vehicles, and Smith and his security staff were housed in a satellite trailer on the property to plan a security program that would not only protect company assets but also satisfy strict federal regulations. These requirements cover officer training and selection, physical security of the facility, and the type of equipment used. According to Smith, "We spent months developing the program on paper and reviewing changes and additions with the US Customs Service. Once it was completed, we had the task of ensuring the program was in place as we built the plant." The program called for setting up the security force as a two-man team of one manager and one section manager, with the remaining 43 or so security officers supplied by CPP, now Pinkerton's.

"We also have the program development and management responsibility for the security operations for our sister company--Nissan Motor Company in U.S.A.," notes Smith. "Essentially we have the same security control operation, so it isn't a `we-them' type of operation."

Part of the obligation of being a foreign trade zone entails elaborate procedures for tracking materials brought into the plant. Like other security people, Smith and Peter Briers, section manager of security and fire protection, are concerned with the protection of these assets. Therefore, the security section is an integral part of the computerized tracking system used at Nissan.

"We are like a foreign port," Smith says. "We need to know what comes in and out and keep control at all times."

Gate 9 on the property is the main material supply gate. Security officers at this location monitor all deliveries by contractors and suppliers who bring materials into the plant areas. The details on deliveries are entered by security personnel on a mainframe computer. This information is then transmitted to the production control section to tell employees in that section the material is on-site. Smith explains, "A security officer may clear a vehicle and note it has a production item from Japan, for example. It is logged into the computer as being on-site and in the foreign trade zone and production is notified that the material is available."

The item may be used in the production operation and then have duty paid on it according to how it leaves the zone. "If it leaves as part of a finished product, the duty is different than if it leaves as a service part of scrap," Briers says. …

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