Daimler Buses is the world’s biggest and most profitable bus manufacturer. In order to ensure that its plants in Europe continue to be fit for the future, the management and works council have agreed on a future-oriented package for efficiency enhancements in production. Furthermore, Daimler Buses will systematically continue to shape the mobility of the future. In the coming years, approximately 340 million euros will be invested. Of that total, 140 million euros will be invested at the sites in Europe to facilitate optimised structures and more efficient processes. In this context, EvoBus GmbH will also extend its future guarantee for its employees at the plants in Germany until the end of 2024.
In addition, Daimler Buses is continuing with the implementation of its CASE strategy and will invest 200 million euros in this area alone by 2020; further investment in CASE and thus in the future of Daimler Buses will follow. At Daimler, CASE stands for the future topics of connectivity (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use (Shared & Services) and electric drive systems (Electric). A large proportion of that investment will flow into the expertise, development and production of electric buses. The first series-produced battery-electric city bus will drive off the assembly lines at the plant in Mannheim in 2018. Another area of investment is to be in Neu-Ulm, where the development team will increasingly work on partially automated and autonomous driving.
“We are the only manufacturer worldwide that still builds city-buses and touring coaches in Germany. We are proud of that! With the target vision for our European production network that we agreed on, we reached a significant milestone, so that this can be kept in the future”, said Hartmut Schick, Head of Daimler Buses and Chairman of the Executive Board of EvoBus GmbH. “Our structures have grown as have years gone by, especially in Europe. In the past few months, we intensively analysed the division of work between our plants and created a new target vision. Within the next few years we will invest around 140 million euros in our production network, to become even better, more efficient and more competitive. It is clear that we will still rely on both of our powerful plants in Germany in the future. Moreover, we consistently invest in the implementation of our CASE-strategy at Daimler Buses, to create the future of mobility and to offer solutions, with which clients and users can move easily, flexible and emission-free.
More efficient and more competitive with improved quality processes
The production plants of EvoBus in Mannheim and Neu-Ulm in Germany and in Holýšov in the Czech Republic have been successfully collaborating for many years. However, the structures and distribution of tasks have evolved over time and are therefore no longer appropriate for modern production processes. The separation that has now been decided upon will facilitate the achievement of further efficiencies in the production network and further improvements in quality processes.
“For us, the target vision offers clear structures and responsibility for our plants and simultaneously allows us the opportunity to be more flexible. In the future, each plant will focus on special competencies. As a result, processes will become simpler and the supply chain will be shortened”, added Dr Markus Nicolai, Head of Production at Daimler Buses. “The EvoBus plants in Mannheim and Neu-Ulm stay the backbone of our production network. For this purpose, we will make them even more competitive. As of 2018, Mannheim will produce the first series of battery-electric buses, as competence centre for city buses. Our competence centre for touring coaches Neu-Ulm works intensively on safety and assistance systems, inter alia for autonomous driving. Our plant in Czech Holýšov, will take on the production of the complete bodies-in-white of the touring coaches and will carry on supplying components for the bodies-in-white of the city buses. The shell construction in Mannheim will be responsible for the shell construction of city-buses and e-mobility.”
The target vision in detail: What will change in the production network?
An overview of the main changes:
Separation of processes for city buses:
- Until now, the Mannheim plant has sent city bus bodies to Neu-Ulm to be painted (well over 2,000 each year). The bus bodies have then been transported back to Mannheim for assembly. This involves high logistical expenses.
- In the future, the transportation of city buses to Neu-Ulm and back will no longer be necessary. Painting will take place in the so-called offline painting process. With this method, the bus bodies will not be painted when complete; exterior body parts will be painted separately and subsequently fitted to the chassis.
- Thanks to uniform, lean production processes, as many stages of work as possible will be carried out directly on the production line. For example, the initial filling of fluids (fuel, oil etc.) as well as brakes tests and wheel alignment will take place directly on the assembly line. This means that separate work stations for those additional process stages will no longer be required.
Clear responsibilities for the European production plants:
- Mannheim will be developed as the competence centre for city buses. In addition to the production of Mercedes-Benz city buses and intercity buses, there will also be a stronger focus on electric mobility. The plant in Mannheim will produce the first series of battery-electric buses in 2018. For this purpose, the required expertise will be strengthened in Mannheim.
- Neu-Ulm will be the competence centre for coaches. In addition to the production of high-quality and highly customised Setra coaches, the development team in Neu-Ulm will be strengthened with the addition of the areas of autonomous driving and modern safety systems.
- The body shop in Holýšov will be expanded. The facility in Czechia will produce all bodies-in-white for the vehicles produced in Neu-Ulm. The existing transportation of various components from Mannheim to Neu-Ulm will no longer be necessary following this additional development of manufacturing competencies.
- The highly flexible plant in Ligny-en-Barrois, France, will continue to assemble a mix of both city buses and intercity buses.
Source: Daimler Buses