Japanese giants Komatsu and Nissan to work together on NEAA project

The firms will share tips as one of the first link-ups organised by the new North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA)

Nissan's vice president for manufacturing in the UK, Kevin Fitzpatrick, and Paul Blanchard, manufacturing director at Komatsu UK, with Nissan and Komatsu vehicles
Nissan's vice president for manufacturing in the UK, Kevin Fitzpatrick, and Paul Blanchard, manufacturing director at Komatsu UK, with Nissan and Komatsu vehicles

Japanese-owned manufacturing giants Komatsu UK and Nissan are set to share the secrets of their success in a link-up organised by the newly formed North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA).

The NEAA, an industry-led cluster group, was launched in March to strengthen the North East’s automotive sector.

Excavator manufacturer Komatsu UK and carmaker Nissan, both founder members of the group, will be working together to benchmark health and safety best practice in one of the alliance’s first projects.

Nissan’s Vice President for Manufacturing in the UK, Kevin Fitzpatrick, said: “The way in which Nissan and Komatsu are linking up to share experience came about through NEAA’s focus on bringing together automotive businesses.

“It will help to boost performance in the region’s carmaking sector by helping to share knowledge and best practice through link ups, workshops and training.”

Paul Blanchard, manufacturing director at Komatsu UK, has taken part in NEAA-organised site visits to regional automotive companies, which aim to boost business excellence in the North East.

He said: “Sharing of best practice information can only strengthen the performance of the region’s automotive and manufacturing sectors, and it is being driven by NEAA.

“The detailed practical discussions on specialist subjects sparked by such activity involve manufacturing companies such as Komatsu, and are pivotal in bringing forward new ideas, and helping us all progress in competitive sectors.

“The NEAA’s business excellence activity is proving to be of great benefit to Komatsu UK. It creates shop floor visits to members’ plants involved in similar manufacturing techniques, to help us all see the advantages of the application of new technology to improve efficiency.”

The NEAA is the region’s first cluster group for the industry, which is responsible for £7bn in sales for the North East, £5.1bn in exports and an annual trade surplus of £2.6bn.

The sector has also received more than £1bn in regional investment across 21 projects in the last five years.

The NEAA aims to channel the potential of the industry and improve its ability to win new markets and attract investment into the North East. It is currently seeking eligible North East SME businesses to take part in a £290,000 initiative.

The SME Supply Chain Development Programme will help to match firms with business opportunities and provide them with the chance to collaborate with others.

NEAA membership is open to automotive companies in the region from multinational businesses to sole traders, and vehicle manufacturers to members of the supply chain.

NEAA chief executive Paul Butler said: “The North East automotive industry provides 26,000 direct jobs, impacts on 141,000 more jobs and potentially could create a further 10,000 jobs over the next decade.

“But it’s important to remember that this massive industry is not just about cars. As Komatsu UK’s involvement demonstrates, it’s a very diverse sector.

“As a cluster group, the NEAA is here to represent and work on behalf of the whole industry, whether a company is making cars or components, or working in commercial, off-highway or engine manufacture.”

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