Exactly thirty years ago, an LN2 truck was the first Mercedes-Benz vehicle to roll off the production line in Ludwigsfelde, which is now Daimler’s third largest van production plant in the world. Today, about 200 of the so-called open model series of the Sprinter (chassis, platform vehicle, tractor head) are manufactured daily, well over 50,000 per year. Over 820,000 vehicles of the brand with the star have now been produced at the Brandenburg plant and sold all over the world.
From truck to van – a fresh start after the fall of the wall
The truck with model designation LN2 led the way, rapidly followed by the first van, the T2, which was also built from 1991 until 1996. The T2 was followed by the Vario and finally the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, the open model variants of which have been in production in Brandenburg since 2006. Currently, in Ludwigsfelde the third Sprinter generation with its derivatives the wind runner and the traction head are being produced. These form the basis for many different types of vehicle, for example ambulances, camper vans or refrigerated vans.
Economic power and security for the region
Three decades ago, the plant in Ludwigsfelde was one of the largest and therefore most important industrial employers in the region. Brandenburg’s Prime Minister Dr Dietmar Woidke on the occasion of the anniversary: “What began 30 years ago has become a success story. I am glad that the former GDR vehicle construction in Ludwigsfelde was stabilised and expanded thanks to the entry of Mercedes-Benz after 1990. Ludwigsfelde is thus one of the success stories of German unity. With the traditional Stuttgart-based company, Brandenburg has a long-standing reliable and strong economic partner. The state government is aware of the current difficult situation of companies and their employees in times of the Corona pandemic. We are doing everything we can to ensure that the framework conditions continue to be good so that we can get off to a good start after the foreseeable end of the pandemic. And of course this also applies to the Sprinter production in Ludwigsfelde. Last summer I visited the factory. And I got a picture of the sprinter production under corona conditions with special protective measures. The commitment of the workforce and the high demands placed on the safety and health of the employees at the plant are impressive.”
In previous years, Mercedes-Benz Vans has invested a great deal in the future of the plant, a total of around one billion euros. “The plant is a mainstay in our current worldwide production network,” said Dr Ingo Ettischer, Head of Production for Mercedes-Benz Vans. “We have already set the course in recent years to set up Ludwigsfelde for the future, particularly in view of the transformation to electric and connected vans. Plus there’s the increasing digitisation of production. All of this requires innovative power, expertise and a professional approach – as the Ludwigsfelde team impressively proves every day.”
The most important capital: the team
Today, more than 2,000 people work for Mercedes-Benz in Ludwigsfelde, most of them on the production of the latest generation of the Sprinter. “There is one decisive factor that determines our sustainable success here at the plant and that is our team,” said the Plant Manager and Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Ludwigsfelde GmbH, Dr Markus Keicher. “Only with the right people can you produce vehicles successfully over such a long period of time. You need a skilled and practised team that gives its very best every day so that vehicles can be produced to customers’ specifications and hold their own on the roads of the whole world – for years and years.”
Changes in production through the years
Production has changed considerably over the past thirty years and the factory has been constantly developed. Thanks to its efficiency and numerous innovations, Ludwigsfelde is now one of the Group’s most modern sites. In recent years, digitisation has increased considerably in the production of Mercedes-Benz Vans, in the form of driverless transport systems, exoskeletons, or the use of RFID chips in logistic processes.
Changes in production through the years
Steffen Seidel, Head of Series Preparation at the Ludwigsfelde plant, has been at the works for almost 30 years and said of changes in production: “When we built the first vehicles in 1991, the production plant looked very different from the way it does today. Most of the manual section of the tasks has been replaced to a large extent by a far greater degree of automation. Today we make considerably more than 200 vehicles per day in two shifts, something that would have been hard to imagine thirty years ago. This was made possible thanks to the innovative power of the staff, new production technologies, by improving the ergonomics at the workplace, and by constantly improving the series preparation. Here the latest methods of digitisation, parts manufacture, bodies for pre-series vehicles, and training methods for production staff are constantly being added to and improved. With it, highly complex and extremely challenging product start-ups, such as the various Sprinter generations, were successfully mastered at the Ludwigsfelde plant. I personally am fascinated by the field of tension between increasingly sophisticated product developments and putting them into practice in our factory in an increasingly digitalised world.”
Combined growth – Ludwigsfelde and Mercedes-Benz
Andreas Igel, the Mayor of Ludwigsfelde, said on the subject of Mercedes-Benz’s roots in the area, “We have achieved a lot together, and the history of the town of Ludwigsfelde is inseparably linked with the success story of the factory – not just over the past thirty years. The factory has contributed to making Ludwigsfelde an attractive location for its inhabitants over the past decades, and to helping the town and the region to develop constantly. We as a town are proud of this long-standing, reliable partnership and we would like to congratulate the management and the entire staff on thirty years of ‘Mercedes-Benz Made in Ludwigsfelde’! We will do everything we can to further strengthen this partnership in the interests of the employees and of the people of the region,” promised Igel.
Source: Mercedes-Benz AG