Intelligent logistics and a flexible supply chain are being used to underpin the recently launched production of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupé at the OEM’s plant in Bremen, Germany, Daimler has claimed – helping to maintain the site as the most complex globally for its number of variants.
Markus Schäfer, member of the divisional board of Mercedes-Benz Cars for production and supply chain management, highlighted the quality and efficiency with which the Bremen plant had been able to add the new model recently and further increase its variability.
The new model joins a flexible system at Bremen alongside the C-Class Coupé and Cabriolet, which the carmaker said had been quickly integrated at the plant and its supply chain. "The ability to build such a diversity of models in Bremen is made possible by a highly flexible production system and intelligent manufacturing concepts, for example by producing all our coupés and cabriolets on one line,” said Peter Theurer (pictured second from left), site manager at Bremen.
The carmaker’s management pointed to several features of the plant’s ‘intelligent production system’, including the use of new technology in areas such as virtual reality, as well as logistics equipment.
During the development phase, the feasibility of the production process was tested through virtual assembly technology. A start-up team from Bremen studied gains in productivity and the ergonomics of assembly and parts handling.
The production of vehicles to customers' individual specifications is also underpinned throughout assembly by an intelligent logistics concept, according to Mercedes-Benz. Driverless transport systems deliver baskets containing the precise components and parts required for each vehicle to the production line, where they are fitted without the need for intermediate buffering. The high level of variance means virtually every vehicle is unique.
The use of such autonomous transport systems in plants, while not new, appears to be on the rise in vehicle plants. BMW, for example, is currently rolling out the use of an advanced autonomous logistics robots at several of its German plants.
The Bremen plant currently produces 10 different models and has the highest number of variants of any plant within the Mercedes-Benz Cars production network.
By the end of the decade, according to the carmaker, the plant will add several new models including some with alternative drivetrains, from plug-in hybrids to fuel cell and electric vehicles.