Bad Cannstatt has a long and successful history as the birthplace of Mercedes-Benz engines. For 125 years ago this was where Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach built their “grandfather clock” – the world’s first single-cylinder engine.
It was to become a pioneering invention which simultaneously marked the birth of automotive mobility. Today, just a stone’s throw from Daimler’s famous greenhouse – the original scene of these activities – is located the most recent sub-plant of the Untertürkheim plant, the V-engine factory at Bad Cannstatt.
This “factory of the future” was officially opened in 1997. For the first time the all-new engine series for 6 and 8-cylinder engines was produced using the same state-of-the-art production facilities. Even then, the objective was to achieve efficient production using as many common components as possible for the variants of the new engine series. With a high output of unit numbers, this meant reduced costs – which ultimately also benefited the customer. The decision to locate to Bad Cannstatt at the time involved an investment worth approximately 1 billion Deutschmarks, 700 million DM of which were earmarked for plant construction and equipment alone.
In 2004 the original production area of 66,300 square metres was expanded by around 18,000 square metres to 84,200 square metres. With a workforce of around 900 employees, the specialist V-engine production facility is today a key part of the production network. Since its official opening, over four million examples of the V-engine duo have already come off the assembly lines at the Cannstatt plant. And this success story is set to continue with production of the new series. In addition to pure engine assembly, Cannstatt is also responsible for the mechanical processing of key components such as crankcases, crankshafts, con rods and cylinder heads.
Envirtonmental protection as a matter of routine
Even at its official opening the Cannstatt plant was considered proof that efficient production, ecological commonsense and attractive jobs were not necessarily mutually exclusive. Here, minimum energy requirements went hand in hand with the optimum use of all resources. This involved, for example, minimising waste materials and recycling process fluids and chips from mechanical processing. With its closed-loop process recycling systems, Cannstatt is almost completely free of wastewater and waste materials, and the plant falls well within legal limits for clean gas values.
The Bad Cannstatt plant has set new standards with approaches that combine the utilisation of waste heat and heat recovery with an advanced photovoltaic system. The solar panelling – which covers an area of 5,000 square metres and at the time was one of the largest systems found anywhere in the world – generates an annual energy output of 350,000 kWh. This is sufficient to meet the electricity needs of more than 120 homes. The electricity generated is fed directly into the plant grid.
For production of the new series the plant adopted the award-winning principle of minimum quantity lubrication, which involves mixing minimum quantities of lubricant with cold air instead of using conventional cooling lubricant. The new process uses a fraction of the volume of cooling lubricant previously used. Since these substances are manufactured from petroleum and demand both energy and cost intensive preparation, the innovation of minimum quantity lubrication represents an enormous cost advantage and a significant contribution to environmental protection.
In addition, a true eco-paradise has been created on the outskirts of the plant. The “Neckar gravel bed” concept was developed in collaboration with environmental and nature conservation associations. After replicating a Neckar meadow over an area of 4,000 square metres – complete with its own characteristic heat islands and warm microclimate – it has been shown that 40 species of wild bee have now found a new habitat.
The Cannstatt plant in focus:
Total area 150,000 m²
Production area 84,200 m²
Official plant opening April 1997
Products V6 and V8 petrol engines
Source: Daimler AG