Just a few months after the CLA Coupé, the new CLA Shooting Brake is starting to leave the production lines at the Hungarian Mercedes-Benz plant in Kecskemét. This not only means that Mercedes-Benz Cars is putting the two sportiest models in the new compact car generation onto the roads in well-proven top quality – in production too, the company is setting standards with respect to flexibility, efficiency and sustainability. It means that the international ramp-up cascade for compact cars that started with the new A-Class in Rastatt in April 2018 has reached a further milestone.

“Many distinguishing features of the smart production of tomorrow are already in place at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Kecskemét. We work on a networked, digital and flexible basis, so the ramp-up of the new CLA Shooting Brake fits seamlessly into our production processes. All this is possible thanks to our highly-motivated and well-trained workforce. We are proud of this team. Together these colleagues ensure that the success story of the CLA will continue at the Kecskemét location,” says Christian Wolff, CEO and Site Manager of Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing Hungary Kft.

Kecskemét as part of the global production network
Since it commenced production in 2012, the Hungarian Mercedes-Benz plant has constantly increased in importance within the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars. Alongside digital networking, the strengths of the production network also include in particular the direct dialogue with the lead plant for the compact cars in Rastatt, Baden-Württemberg in Germany.

The production network for the compact cars has a total of six plants on three continents: as well as Kecskemét there are locations in Rastatt, Beijing (China), Uusikaupunki (Finland), Aguascalientes (Mexico) and Hambach (France). They currently produce seven models: Mercedes Benz A, B-Class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake, GLA, A-Class Sedan and the long-wheelbase A-Class L Sedan specifically for the Chinese market.

The workforce in Kecskemét produces the CLA Shooting Brake and the CLA Coupé exclusively for the world market. The A-Class has been part of the production portfolio at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Kecskemét since 2018.

Focus on flexibility, efficiency and sustainability
Modern Industry 4.0 technologies distinguish all the production locations of Mercedes-Benz Cars, and these are being constantly developed further. This enables the plants to respond to changing customer wishes with maximum flexibility. The focus is firmly on flexibility, new digital solutions and sustainability. This is because market fluctuations, changing customer needs and a wide variety of equipment variants make it necessary to ensure maximum agility in production. Numerous physical and technological innovations help to bring this about.

For example, a futuristic pilot project is currently under way at the
Mercedes-Benz plant in Kecskemét to find out how the airspace can be used to optimise logistics. Over a period of around five months, replacement parts needed for plant maintenance were carried over the rooftops – between warehouses and maintenance workshops – of the production shops by drones. This additional transport option increases flexibility and reduces traffic within the plant. The project will also be piloted in other locations in the future, so as to improve processes still further.

Other applications at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Kecskemét also provide examples of how Mercedes-Benz Cars is continuously developing its production network further:

  • Flexi-cell production: In the newly constructed body shop, the bonnets and boot lids/tailgates for the new model series are produced in so-called flexi-cells. Modular, exchangeable stations make it possible to switch between models within a very short time.
  • New material transport concepts in the bodyshop: The
    Mercedes-Benz plant in Kecskemét employs new technologies when transporting parts. For example, driverless transport vehicles move the wheel arches – and even the entire bodyshells – of the new compact models between the individual assembly stations in the body shop. This improves both efficiency and safety in the workplace.
  • Forklift-free assembly and driverless transport system (DTS): The aim is to eliminate fork-lift trucks from the assembly shop, mainly in the interests of safety. Special roller platforms are used instead of fork-lift trucks. Irrespective of the material container, these carry the material into the assembly shop as flexible logistical trains using fixed routes. The plant also uses driverless transport systems (DTS). They deliver precisely the components and parts required for each individual vehicle to the production line, where they are installed with no intermediate buffering. Some 99 percent of the assembly operations in Kecskemét are already forklift-free.
  • Paperless factory: This project shows how digital Industry 4.0 solutions improve efficiency in production while conserving resources. Modern data transfer processes are gradually replacing all paper documentation. This includes for example the documentation accompanying each vehicle on the line, and the verification records for internal processes.
  • CO2-neutral production: The energy supply for all Mercedes-Benz Cars plants in Europe will be CO2-neutral by 2022. The Mercedes-Benz plant in Kecskemét will already start procuring CO2-neutral electric power next year. To improve energy efficiency, the entire exterior lighting has already been changed over to LED lights. The lighting systems in all the buildings will follow by 2021.

Source: Daimler AG