One of the most cutting-edge body presses in the world has gone into operation at the Kuppenheim press shop. The new press line supplies the nearby Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt with outer skin components consisting of the most diverse materials. This boosts Kuppenheim’s expertise in the field of lightweight construction and supports the growth of the current compact car generation. It also creates a highly competitive network of closely integrated production facilities in Baden-Wuerttemberg’s Murgtal region in Germany. The portfolio covers various stages of the added-value process, from parts, components and modules to the final assembly of compact vehicles.
Kuppenheim – Mercedes-Benz has officially started one of the most cutting-edge body presses worldwide at the press shop in Kuppenheim. This results in a competitive network of integrated production plants for the current generation of compact cars in Baden Wuerttemberg’s Murgtal region in Germany. Mercedes-Benz is investing 170 million euros in the expansion of Kuppenheim, creating 200 additional jobs at the plant in the process. Next to representatives of Mercedes-Benz, the start of production of the new servo press line was attended by political representatives and many other guests. ”Kuppenheim II is part of the Mercedes-Benz Cars growth strategy. In expanding Kuppenheim and integrating the facility into our global press shop network, we are bundling the stamping production for the Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt. This paves the way for future growth of our current generation of compact cars. Top priority of the expansion was the efficiency and flexibility of the equipment“, explained Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain Management. ”This enables us to respond flexibly to customers’ demand and market requirements and boosts our international competitiveness”.
The new facility supplies the Mercedes-Benz factories in Rastatt and Kecskemét and Finnish contract manufacturer Valmet Automotive with body stampings made of various different steel and aluminium types. These provide an ideal mix of design, crash safety, lightweight construction and quality for the current compact car generation. The press shop in Kuppenheim is part of an integrated network of press shops which includes the facilities in Sindelfingen, Bremen, Hamburg and Kecskemét. The press shop network forms part of the Mercedes-Benz Cars Technology Factory.
”We will continue to invest in the Kuppenheim plant. In the next step, we will add a body shell shop which will produce modules and components for the next generation of compact cars from Mercedes-Benz“, Schäfer announced. Since 2011, the Kuppenheim press shop has been producing body components for compact vehicles and Daimler Trucks in a facility covering 92,000 square metres of floor space. With the new press line, the existing press shop has been expanded by an additional 25,000 square metres of production and storage space.
At the official start of production, Michael Brecht, Chairman of the General Works Council at Daimler AG, stressed: ”When the decision for the new press shop in Kuppenheim was taken, we couldn’t imagine the future importance of this plant. With the integration of the plant into the passenger car production network and the additional bodyshell production, Kuppenheim is now a cornerstone of the Gaggenau plant. The substantial expansion of the plant is the result of successful negotiations between Works Council and management. From the beginning, the colleagues in Kuppenheim have dedicated themselves to creating a bright future for the plant”.
Innovations to further boost efficiency
The centrepiece of the expansion is a state-of-the-art six-stage XL servo press with a total pressing force of 9,100 tonnes. Its dimensions are impressive: it is 120 metres long, 12 metres high and weighs a total of 3,850 tonnes. Vibration dampers consisting of giant steel springs on the foundation ensure that the vibrations resulting from the operation of such vast presses are completely absorbed. Large and complex outer skin components such as side walls, bonnets and doors for the compact vehicles will be formed to perfection on this press in the future. A new try-out press in the same building serves to prepare new or reworked tools for production.
In expanding the press shop, Industry 4.0 is applied. The goods management system, for example, works 100 percent paperless. All processes are electronically documented and forwarded, from orders by the Rastatt plant through production and logistics processes to delivery to the Rastatt body shell shop. Technical innovations have also been implemented in the new XL press. Its servo drive reduces the power consumption per produced part, for example, and increases output. The new automatic front-of-line area in front of the press ensures a smooth supply of pre-cut sheet-metal blanks. Efficiency also characterises the end-of-line area, thanks to finely coordinated operations between man and machine. A prime example is the computer-assisted quality control. First of all, a robot equipped with a special camera system and special software examines all produced parts. Afterwards, the highly qualified personnel refer to the results of this inspection when carrying out their final appraisal of the parts. This computerised support for the personnel in performing their responsible work was first introduced at the Bremen plant in 2014 and has since contributed to the consistently high quality of produced components. The new stacking system for finished parts in Kuppenheim also takes the strain off the personnel by automatically placing the sometimes bulky parts in the waiting special load carriers. A barcode on the load carrier then indicates the transfer location to the logistics personnel.
Finally, the so-called laser blanking line is a completely new development. This machine cuts the aluminium and steel sheet-metal parts to size before they are formed into plates in the press. The special feature of this process is the cutting of the blanks by laser, and that the material is continuously fed into the plant. This completely eliminates the complex process of producing the previously required large cutting tools – another significant contribution to efficient and flexible production.
During the event, the project manager in charge of the plant expansion, Alexander Knittel, thanked the project team and authorities for their support and constructive cooperation. “In the past two years, we have moved 90,000 cubic metres of earth and cast 6000 cubic metres of concrete into foundations. We have built large factory buildings and installed complex facilities – and all this without affecting the round-the-clock production of the existing plant next door. We have kept to the schedule and to the allocated budget. With a project of this scale, this can only be achieved when all those involved pull together“.
Source: Daimler AG