Institute Visit

Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 2
Publication Date: Unavailable
Visit to the Datsun Nissan Company's body pressing and assembly plant at Rosslyn, Pretoria, and the Claremont-Danville Tunnel on 27th February, 1970. The excursion arranged for the 27th February to the Datsun Nissan motor car assembly plant at Rosslyn, near Pretoria, in the morning and the Claremont-Danville tunnel in the afternoon was well supported by some 43 members. The visitors were met at the factory by Mr Rademeyer, the Industrial Relations Manager, and members of his staff and were taken to the artisan training centre for light refreshments. There is a well-equipped training section with an air-conditioned lecture hall; we were told that such training facilities were important because of the cosmopolitan nature of the artisan staff. The visitors were divided into small parties and taken to the tool die and jig-making section, which is perhaps the key department for a factory of this nature. There the many dies for the presses in the body pressing section, as well as the complicated jigs for body welding are made. The technique for making the castings for the dies is interesting. A polystyrene model of the casting is embedded in moulding sand. In a neighbouring foundry molten metal is pressed into the headers and burns away the polystyrene, which leaves no residue, and this exactly fills the space occupied by the model. This rough casting is then machined in large copying machines (costing as much as Rl80 000). An exact plastic model of the surface of the pressing required, set up in juxtaposition to this casting is traversed by a master stylus which operates the slave milling cutter, thereby machining the surface to close tolerances. The machined casting is cleaned up by hand and finally finished in large spotting machines, using a blue dye to show up high spots, to the fine degree of accuracy required. The body pressing section was next visited. There the large number of pressed parts which make up a vehicle body are pressed out of special deep drawing steel plate. Some of the largest presses were capable of applying a pressure of 1 200 tons and cost as much as Rl85 000 each. The visitors then followed through to the assembly section where jigs are used to hold together the many pressings, which are then spot welded into body frames. The frames go to an assembly line where they are finished to the stage for painting. The continuous crawl painting assembly line carries the frames through all the stages of prime coating with zinc phosphate sprayed on in a tunnel, followed by immersion of the lower parts in a priming bath, then drying and spray painting and baking in tunnels. The body frames, after painting, join another assembly line, where the doors, upholstery and many fittings are attached. After this stage the completed bodies are lowered onto and attached to the chassis units which are largely assembled from imported parts (engines, transmission units, etc.). From the end of the line the completed cars are driven off to the trial track and then pass through a tunnel with powerful water sprays to detect leaks in the body work. The proportion of locally made parts is just on 45 per cent. An interesting aspect of the assembly organization is that, of the 140 or 160 cars completed each day there may be included some of each of the Datsun model as well as some Renault and Alfa Romeo models models which are assembled by this company. The change from one model to another several times a day does not present any difficulty to the organization. Each section of the assembly plant 'buys' the units from the preceeding section and 'sells' to the succeeding section. This means that the responsibility of each section ends when the unit is sold to the next section. The cost of repairing any faults found subsequently is charged to the section where it is found, which puts a powerful emphasis on meticulous inspections between sections to safeguard their costs. After the tour the parties assembled at the lecture hall where a lavish cold buffet luncheon was provided by the company. After luncheon Mr A. R. C. Fowler, on behalf of the Institute, thanked the Managing Director, Mr W. J. Wilson and his staff for this most interesting and well organized visit. The party then left for the Claremont-Danville tunnel. The tunnel is being driven by General Mining Federale Kontrakteurs through the Daspoort Range, Pretoria, to link the suburbs of Danville, near Iscor, and Claremont, which at present can only be reached by a nine mile detour. It is estimated that some 6000 vehicles per day will use the tunnel. Before entering the tunnel a short talk was given by Mr Ross who is in charge of operations. He called on various officials and staff of the Consulting Engineering firm, Basil Read (Pty.) Ltd., to describe the tunnel and
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