Mercedes-Benz has started series production of the new E-Class cabriolet model at its plant in Bremen, Germany and has highlighted the logistics and digital communication technology underpinning the production process.

The E-Class cabriolet is being built on the same line as the E-Class coupé, and the C-Class coupé and cabriolet. To the support the flexibility required to produce four models on the same line the Mercedes-Benz team at Bremen worked closely with colleagues at the Sindelfingen plant during the start up phase to share learning about production efficiency. Sindelfingen makes the E-Class saloon and estate models (amongst a number of others).

As with the start of production of the E-Class coupé in Bremen in January this year the company used three-dimensional, virtual assembly of the vehicle in digital workshops. It also employed training courses on complex special equipment.

“Maximum flexibility is a central success factor in the production strategy of Mercedes-Benz Cars,” said Markus Schäfer, member of the divisional board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain. “With its strong team and start-up experience over recent years, the Bremen plant sets standards in the global production network.”

The Bremen plant is using autonomous transport systems to deliver baskets of pre-selected components and parts required for the individual vehicle directly to the production line. Mercedes-Benz said that thanks to the early involvement of the start-up team in vehicle development, the working procedures in production are initially optimised in terms of “build-ability and ergonomics”.

The Bremen plant is also using digital communication or Industry 4.0 technology. In one example an application called Q-Gate gives live visualisation of the production stages on the line, making digital quality control processes possible in real time. The company is also embracing the concept of the paperless factory using the latest data transfer methods and new hardware solutions to replace documentation of the individual working stages on paper.

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.