Mercedes-Benz is a multinational division of the manufacturer Daimler AG from German and the brand is used for luxury automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks. Mercedes-Benz’s headquarter is in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The brand first appeared in 1926 under Daimler Benz which originally from Daimler’s 1901 Mercedes and from Karl Benz’s 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen, widely remarked as the first automobile.
The following report is to engage the readers how a Mercedes-Benz automobile is being produced and the process strategy that the company had developed in order to become top selling car in the world. It also reveals the critical dimensions of the product quality for the Mercedes-Benz automobile products.
Product Design and Development Process
The process of making a Mercedes-Benz vehicle usually takes around three years from the initial drawing to final approval of the model. During these three years, the new Mercedes-Benz passes through development stages in which the designer team works together to produce the final vehicle. The team converts the initial drawings (modular design) into the next generation of Mercedes-Benz vehicle. The following process is the steps to produce a finished automobile:
1. Drawing/Rendering: the designer team initially draws a hand-sketched on a piece of paper, or on a screen. 2. Digital/Package: a virtual image of the automobile is created on a computer (CAD system). Source: www.carbodydesign.com
3. 1:4 clay models: the next step is to create a clay model of every variant of a new automobile. The designers will then decide whether their drafts create the desired effect in three dimensions, too. At the same time virtual models are created on the computer. 4. Model selection: With the help of scanning and milling machines the first full-size model are made. The final form of the new automobile is chosen in order to be formally examined in a 1:1 scale. Source: www.carbodydesign.com
5. 1:1 model: all the individual details of the new model are handmade. In this step, a real-looking model is created and it reveals all the characteristic features of the new automobile. 6. Interior sketches: in this step, the designers sketch for the design of the interior. This is where the driver seat designs are created. Source: www.carbodydesign.com
7. Interior clay model: all the details are created until a desired top-quality feeling is created. Three alternative choices of interiors are built for a decision to be made. 8. Colour & trim / operating and display concept (control and display system): the material and colour for the automobile interior are chosen from hundreds of fabric and leather samples as well as a virtually endless colour spectrum. All the control and display elements are designed and developed too.
9. Interior data control model: all the materials and colours are tested and checked for effect on producing 1:1 interior models under “real-life conditions”. Every material and every colour is allocated a code and specified. 10. Final model: the exterior and the interior with all their details are combined together to create a model and the future Mercedes-Benz model becomes tangible. 11. Model approval: finally, the design process has to obtain approval by the Board of Management. If this is successful, the production of the new Mercedes-Benz is released.
Manufacturing Process and Process Strategy
Mercedes-Benz automobiles are mainly manufactured in Sindelfingen, Germany assembly plant. This is where all the important functions like sales record, design and development; pre-production and production-planning worldwide have been integrated at one site. In early 1994, the foundations for the plant and the production system for Mercedes-Benz US International Inc. (MBUSI) were set up and it was not far away from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The site mainly manufactured the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, GL-Class and R-Class SUVs. In 2011 the plant produced more than 148,000 vehicles and employed approximately 2,800 people by year’s end. This report is focusing on the production of Mercedes-Benz automobiles factory in the Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
The production facility in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, it involves six production cornerstones of the vehicle’s assembly process. The employees are encouraged to work toward developing improvements and emphasized on the cleanliness and safety. First of all, the factory has a large office area where all the materials and parts that are ordered from suppliers which are mainly come from North American suppliers and others. The production teams will then set a production date and create a barcode including the VIN and other specifications. Mercedes-Benz does not stock up a lot of parts. In fact, they adopt “just-in-time” method and maintain only two to three hours of inventory on the line. Moreover, Mercedes-Benz does not stamp out its own metal body parts.
The body shop has hundreds of German-made (KUKA) welding machines that assembly materials and parts together. The plant itself has approximately 800 machines and 600 of them are in the body shop. To ensure safety in this area, a flexible screen is used to cover the flying sparks. The employees inspect critical welds to identify dimensional accuracy and after the welding is complete, another inspection is conducted to ensure the exterior body is ready for paint. After the body shop production, the second-floor paint shop at the Tuscaloosa plant is a super clean environment where a proper suit and headgear are required to prevent unwanted dirt or particles.
In this area, the vehicles go through the six steps process such as, a pre-cleaning, a phosphate dip, and the application of an electrically charged e-coat, primer, colour coat, and finally the top coat. Every vehicle goes through for more than three miles on conveyor belts as it travels through the painting process and curing ovens. After inspections, the vehicles return back to the assembly shop for the installation of the interior parts and engine. This section of plant includes:
1. six “trim lines”
2. four “final lines”
3. “door line”
4. “engine/chassis line”
5. “off-line quality test”
6. Source: www.automotivetraveler.com
The employees and the machines are working together side by side, applying their advanced and various skills to the vehicles as they move slowly along the assembly lines. If any deviation is detected, one of the employees will pull a rope that creates a short melodic tune. Each line has its own melody and every employee is able to recognize “their song”. Repair area usually takes a short period of time and quickly most vehicles continued one.
In the engine/chassis assembly line, the major parts of the engine are united and numerous machines work together in this section. Usually all the engines come from either Berlin or Stuttgart. Source: www.automotivetraveler.com
Then the vehicles will go through the off-line quality checks. This involves some rattles test such as, driving over rollers that imitate the bumpy road situations while an employee inspects for any rattling sounds. There is also another quality check station that inspects the vehicles to ensure proper sealing by using high-pressure hoses to replicate the pounding rainstorms and flooded roads. After all the vehicles have passes through the final inspections, the vehicles will be prepared to transport to the dealers or be shipped for the international orders.
As we can see from the manufacturing process of the Mercedes-Benz automobiles, the company adopts the process strategy of repetitive focus. They have standardized modules that assembly materials and parts together and the facilities are organized as assembly lines. Hence, the production of Mercedes-Benz automobiles are efficient and usually having medium volumes of outputs. The company adopts repetitive focus strategy as it also has machines that help in the assembly lines of the production as well as skilled and trained employees that work in the factory.
Five Critical Dimensions of Product Quality
Taking example of Mercedes-Benz GL-Class SUV, there are some critical dimensions of its product quality. In this report, each dimension delivers two examples of its product quality.
The Mercedes-Benz GL-Class SUV is equipped with the special engine called “handcrafted AMG 5.5L biturbo V-8.” It is a high-tech powerhouse with a thunderous 550hp at 5,250-5750 rpm and 560 lb-ft of torque at 2,000-5,000 rpm. This engine improves the efficiency and emissions.
The vehicle is also equipped with another engine which is called “7-speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT transmission.” It features three driving modes that can be selected via a console-mounted button called “Controlled Efficiency”, it functions as a fuel-saving ECO Start/Stop function.
One of the features that GL-Class SUV has is the “PARKTRONIC with Active Parking Assist.” This feature helps the driver to size up parallel-parking spaces as most drivers have difficulty in parallel-parking.
Another feature will be the “ATTENTION ASSIST driver-drowsiness monitor.” This system will monitor the different parameters of driving behaviour and automatically alert the driver with both visual and warnings if the system detects any signs of drowsiness.
In the U.S. and Europe, large of quantity of vehicles have use no gasoline and produce zero tailpipe emissions are already in use. Mercedes-Benz vehicles are also adopting the zero-emission driving concept.
For generations, Mercedes-Benz has been ground-breaking fuel-cell car to help preserve the earth for future generations. Hence, Mercedes-Benz is collaborating with Clean Diesel, a leading non-profit to help sustaining the environment. Therefore, Mercedes-Benz produces a BlueTEC Clean Diesel, a small engine yet delivers powerful mpg and low emissions. It is also known as the world’s cleanest and most advanced diesel.
The design of the vehicle is one of the aspects to consider when customers choose and purchase the vehicle. Hence, the “Refined cabin styling” of the
GL-Class is delivering a first-class design of the driver seat and seating rows.
Another unique design that GL-Class has is the “21-inch AMG twin 5-spoke wheels”. It features the five twin spokes and a brilliant silver touch. The feature itself has the confident on the wet-road performance and a composed ride quality.
There is a Mercedes-Benz centre in Singapore where the vehicles will enjoy five-star treatment. The centre provides new servicing and repair facilities as well as the Diagnostic Assistance System which is linked directly to Germany for up-to-the-second technical data. It also can quickly assess any vehicle. With trained and skilled technicians, customers could enjoy professional service from the Mercedes-Benz service centre whereby it is located at 301 Alexandra Road Singapore 159968.
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