• Tennessee’s Largest Forging Press Delivered to Nissan’s Engine Plant

    Nissan Smyrna

Weighing in at over two million pounds, measuring 24 feet wide and 27 feet long fully assembled, the new forging press at Nissan North America’s Decherd Powertrain Assembly Plant is the largest forging press in Tennessee.

The 6500-ton forging press will be used at the plant’s new crankshaft forging facility, which is scheduled to begin production in the fall. At full capacity, the facility will produce one million crankshaft forgings annually for the engines manufactured in Decherd for all Nissan and Infiniti vehicles built at the company’s vehicle assembly plants in Smyrna, Tenn., and Canton, Miss. Forgings will also be exported to Nissan’s vehicle assembly plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

In late January the crankshaft forging press started its journey by ship in Osaka, Japan, and arrived in New Orleans six weeks later. Welded in place on its barge, the largest press components traveled up the Mississippi River to the Ohio River, making the final leg of its journey via the Cumberland River into Nashville. In the heaviest of eight shipments, the press arrived in Nashville today.

The press will be unloaded from the barge today onto a 160-ton dual lane transporter truck measuring 220 feet long and 20 feet wide for transport from downtown Nashville to Decherd. The trip, directed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, will cover approximately 100 miles and is expected to take eight to 10 hours.

When the press arrives at the Decherd plant on Tuesday, a 600-ton gantry crane will unload it from the delivery trailer. Another 600-ton gantry crane will pick up the press and set it into a prepared pit inside the new 63,000-square-foot forging facility. Forty-two inches of concrete with two layers of rebar supported by 20 caissons drilled into bedrock serve as the foundation for the press. An isolation frame with 20 spring- viscodampers will isolate and cushion the press protecting the surrounding environment once operation begins.

The enormous forging press is central to the crankshaft production process. First, steel billets are heated to approximately 2200 degrees Fahrenheit and loaded into the forging press. The billet goes through three hot-forging processes to form the basic shape of the crank. After the excess metal is trimmed away, the crankshaft is transferred by robot to a 400-ton hydraulic twisting and hot coining press to be sized for inline 4-cyclinder, V6 or V8 crankshafts. The finished crankshaft is then control cooled and loaded onto a pallet for delivery to the on-site engine machining department or to Nissan Mexicana.

The new forging facility is located on the northeast side of the current Decherd facility, adjacent to the engine machining plant and connected via a corridor. The 63,000-square-foot addition brings the Powertrain Assembly Plant footprint to over 1 million square feet. Nissan North America is investing $48 million in the crankshaft forging operation, bringing total capital investment in the Decherd plant to $648 million. The forging operation requires about 50-60 employees.

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