The Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant, around 20 km away of the company headquarters in Stuttgart, is commencing production of the compact SUV GLA as part of the pilot project ”I nnovation Factory“. The framework conditions for the project have been agreed between the management and the Works Council. Within the global production network, the Sindelfingen plant is the centre of competence for rear-wheel drive vehicles in the luxury and upper-range classes. Production of the GLA starting in the first quarter of 2018 marks the first time that a compact vehicle with front-wheel drive will be manufactured at the site.

”In the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars, maximum flexibility is a key factor for future success. Within the next decade we will therefore enable existing and new production sites to function as so-called full-flex plants and build vehicles independently of architecture and drive systems. The production of the GLA at the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant is the initial impulse for the pilot project entitled ’Innovation Factory’,” explains Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production & Supply Chain.

The pilot project is scheduled to last around two years. It comprises virtually all aspects of production, from manufacturing technologies with a low degree of automation and state-of-the-art Industry 4.0 solutions, through to logistics and work organisation with flexible shift models. For this, Hall 32 of the plant will be appropriately equipped. ”The Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant is in the biggest modernisation phase of its more than one-hundred-year history. With the ‘Innovation Factory’ pilot project, we use the outstanding know-how, flexibility and high level of motivation of our employees and help to shape the future of production at Mercedes-Benz Cars. This is a key step in the transformation of the plant. At the same time we are supporting our global production network by making additional capacity available in the short term,” says Michael Bauer, Site Manager and Head of Production of the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant.

The GLA has been rolling off the production line at the Mercedes-Benz Rastatt plant since 2013, and since 2015 also at the Chinese production site of BBAC in Beijing. The lead plant in Rastatt, around 90 km away of Stuttgart, which is already running at full capacity, is currently preparing for the start-up of the next compact car generation and needs additional capacity. The very successful current generation of the GLA will therefore also be produced at the Sindelfingen plant from the first quarter of 2018 until the end of its life cycle. Within the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars, lead plants control production of the various vehicle segments. As such, alongside the quality of the compact cars, the Mercedes-Benz Rastatt plant is also responsible for their start-up and change management in Kecskemét (Hungary) and Beijing (China), and at the production partner Valmet in Uusikaupunki (Finland). In addition, in 2018 production of the next generation of compact cars will commence at the Mexican joint venture production plant of COMPAS (Cooperation Manufacturing Plant Aguascalientes).

“We are a top of-the-range plant and have the highly qualified team needed to cope with order peaks and a strategic area in Hall 32 where further vehicle types can be manufactured. About one and a half years ago, the works council campaigned to ensure that this area could be used for new technologies. It has always been our goal to prepare the location for the challenges of the future and to secure employment. With the production of the GLA, Sindelfingen is fulfilling its role as an innovation and competence center and pioneer for new technologies. And we are once again making a large step towards to our goal of bringing more vehicles to Sindelfingen. I am pleased that our initiative has made the jobs for our colleagues fit for the future, this applies also for the entire site and the region,” says Ergun Lümali, Deputy Chairman of the Central Works Council of Daimler AG and Chairman of the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant Works Council.

Flexible production
Mercedes-Benz Cars is adopting the so-called ”full-flex assembly“ at its passenger car plants. With this concept, the assembly lines and plants are optimally prepared for possible changes to the overall conditions. For example, different vehicle architectures (rear- and front-wheel drive) and their derivatives can be produced in a single plant. This also applies for different drive types, from vehicles with combustion engine and models with hybrid and plug-in drives to full electric vehicles. The goal of Mercedes-Benz Cars is to further develop the existing production facilities into “ full-flex plants” within a decade. As part of this, state-of-the-art technologies are being integrated into proven production processes. This is possible because Mercedes-Benz Cars made investments in its plants at an early stage, to ensure that they would be flexible and have technical equipment offering trend-setting Industry 4.0 solutions. The first ”full-flex plant“ is currently being built from the ground up next to the existing compact car plant at the Hungarian site in Kecskemét. The production start is currently scheduled for end of this decade.

Source: Daimler AG