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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Europe Lean Tour Day 2 Mercedes

From luxury to sporty to becoming Green...

From the first 4-wheeled automobile in 1886 with a top speed of 18km/hr to the latest Mercedes
sports car with a top speed of over 400 km/hr...

From cars and trucks, to ambulances and police station wagons, to buses and winter-service equipment...

Innovation and imagination is limitless at Mercedes-Benz and what we need in an ever-changing market.

Watching the evolution of Mercedes-Benz at the Mercedes-Benz Museum was a thrilling experience!

After lunch at the museum, we visited the Mercedes-Benz plant at Sindelfingen.  With an annual production of 460,000 cars, this is Daimler's largest production plant.  It produces the C-class, E-class, E-Saloon, CLS, S-class, CL coupe, SLS AMG, S-Pullman, and Maybach. Maybach production is only 350-450 per year.

Our tour included the welding, final assembly and press shops. This is a highly automated production line, especially in the welding shop where the robots weld, measure and recalibrate all by themselves (~99% of the work is automated with 600+ robots) with 2/100 requring rework at a 0.1 mm tolerance level.

Have you ever seen auto parts being GLUED on an assembly line?  At Mercedes we saw 108 metres of glue line, being performed by robots.  The press shop produces 15000 parts in 7-8 hrs and consumes 160k tons of steel and 80k tons of aluminum per day. No wonder this plant has its own fire station, with 80 firemen and 20 fire trucks, and consumes 1.5 mMkw of electricity per day.  That's equivalent to the consumption of a city of 90,000 people.  Nevertheless, the line operators at Mercedes-Benz take a five minute break every 55 min.  The average age of the workers is 45 years.

It was also interesting to see some Lean tools being applied - huddle meetings, Kanban, A3 Problem Solving, andons, shop floor scoreboard, etc. 

Towards the end of the tour, the chatter amongst the group was interrupted when we walked by some brand new Mercedes SLS models. Apparently, there are only 25 of them produced per day at a takt time of 30 minutes (as compared to 72 seconds for a c-class and 2.5 minutes  for a S-class). To round out this exciting visit we were treated to a preview of the SLS Cabriolet!

After a day of Benz, we took a smooth ride to Munich on the ICE train.

Join us tomorrow for an overview of our visit to BMW.

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