The five millionth Mercedes-Benz compact vehicle “Made in Rastatt” since production of the first A-Class began back in 1997 has rolled off the production line at Mercedes-Benz’s Rastatt plant. This marks a historic production milestone for the A- and B-Class and the GLA at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt.
In addition, the Rastatt plant is broadening its portfolio with the addition of the A-Class Sedan. As the lead plant of the Mercedes-Benz Cars production network, Rastatt is now producing four compact models (A- and B-Class, A-Class Sedan and GLA).
It was a year ago that Mercedes-Benz Cars initiated a global production ramp-up cascade. Production of the A-Class Sedan started in the third quarter of 2018 at the COMPAS (Cooperation Manufacturing Plant Aguascalientes) joint venture production plant in Mexico. This means that the new A-Class Sedan is now being produced at two plants within Mercedes-Benz Cars’ global production network. Connectivity, digitisation, flexibility and sustainability are the buzz words in the production of Mercedes-Benz Cars. Especially at Mercedes-Benz’s Rastatt plant, which is connected to all the plants of the global compact car production network. A highly motivated workforce and Industry 4.0 technologies enabled the Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt to ramp up the production of three new compact models (A- and B-Class, A-Class Sedan) in top quality in the space of a year for fast and flexible delivery to the markets. Ongoing improvements in recent years have additionally enabled Mercedes-Benz’s Rastatt plant to achieve substantial reductions in energy consumption per vehicle in the production process.
“Our team in Rastatt is looking forward to putting the new A-Class Sedan on the road in the customary Mercedes-Benz top quality. The Rastatt team demonstrated its competence and flexibility once again during the compact car production ramp-up cascade in 2018. The production of the five millionth Mercedes-Benz compact vehicle highlights the Rastatt plant’s importance as the lead plant for Mercedes-Benz’s compacts, in addition to which it is ideally prepared for an upcoming compact electric vehicle of the EQ product and technology brand,” notes Thomas Geier, Site Manager of the Mercedes-Benz Rastatt plant.
The launch of the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan represents a further important step in the production of the new compact car generation, which is being produced within a flexible and efficient set-up spanning five locations.
The family of compact cars currently comprises seven models: Mercedes-Benz A-Class, B-Class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake, GLA, A-Class Sedan and the A-Class Sedan with long wheelbase, which has been in production in Beijing specifically for the Chinese market since the third quarter.
Mercedes-Benz has invested extensively in technologies and know-how at the Rastatt plant. The infrastructure which has been created allows the A-Class Sedan to be integrated into current series production operations – it runs on the same lines as have been used for the new A-Class compact Sedan and the GLA since April 2018. This means that three models are now being manufactured on a single production line.
The new A-Class notchback model sees Mercedes-Benz Cars bringing the Sedans back to Rastatt after more than 20 years. The E-Class of the 210 model series was produced here until 1996, before the first A-Class founded the compact car segment in 1997 and Rastatt became the cradle of the Mercedes-Benz compact cars.
More than 20 years’ experience with compacts
Rastatt is also the centre for all matters relating to the qualification of personnel involved in the production of the new compacts. Up to 240 employees undergo training simultaneously at the Training Center. The team here can look back on more than 20 years of experience. In future, a compact Mercedes-Benz electric vehicle of the EQ product and technology brand will also be produced at the Rastatt plant.
As the lead plant for compact cars, the Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt is responsible for global production control and planning as well as quality and supplier management. The production network comprises the plants in Kecskemét (Hungary), Beijing (China), Uusikaupunki (Finland), Aguascalientes (Mexico) and Hambach (France) – six plants in all on three continents.
Advanced technologies redefining production standards
Connectivity, digitisation, flexibility and sustainability are the buzz words in the production of Mercedes-Benz Cars. Especially at the Rastatt plant, which is connected to all the plants of the global compact car production network and even has remote access to production facilities and robots where necessary – in order to load new software, for example. The plant is also equipped with state-of-the-art digital production technologies and cutting-edge Industry 4.0 solutions. A few examples:
- Driverless transport systems: The A-Class Sedan can be ordered in numerous equipment variants. Driverless transport systems deliver baskets to the production line containing precisely the parts and components required for the individual vehicles concerned. They are then directly installed with no buffer stock. This provides for a particularly efficient and flexible production process.
- Calibration of head-up displays (HUD): Head-up displays are optionally available for the new A-Class Sedan. These project important information onto the windscreen, directly in the driver’s field of vision. A special procedure helps to calibrate the displays with precision: at selected points on the production line an employee sits behind the steering wheel with a tablet computer equipped with two additional cameras. One camera calibrates the tablet’s position to a certain point in the dashboard. Arrows on the screen tell the employee in which direction to move the tablet. Once this is done, the second camera automatically takes a picture and the image is analysed. Once in position, the calibration parameters arrived at are sent to the HUD’s control unit by WLAN, via the OBD interface, and the image is adjusted accordingly. The second camera then checks the position and form of the image.
- Q-LIVE combines, optimises and digitises the quality control systems in production. It provides a smart and intuitive user environment with interfaces to existing systems which does not involve any additional effort and operates across all devices.
- Paperless factory: New hardware solutions in combination with digital data transmission are gradually replacing the documentation of all stages of the production process on paper. As part of this strategic transformation process, the production line documentation accompanying the vehicle and the verification of internal processes will in future be completed paperlessly. This will take place with the aid of new monitors at the production line and mobile devices, for example.
- Sustainable and energy-efficient production: Ongoing improvements in recent years have enabled the Rastatt plant to achieve substantial reductions in energy consumption per vehicle. A new, energy-efficient painting system has been installed, for example. There is also a focus on avoiding production waste.
- CO2-neutral production: Since 2011 the Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt has managed to almost halve its specific annual CO2 emissions by means of various measures. The energy supply for all Mercedes-Benz Cars plants in Europe will be CO2-neutral by 2022.
Source: Daimler AG