Mercedes-Benz to set up “agile production” system

Article by Anita Panait, on November 26, 2013

Mercedes-Benz is eyeing to set up a so-called "agile production" system in its engine assembly operations, according to production and purchasing chief Andreas Renschler. He told the Automobilwoche Congress last week that while at present, they are building four- and six-cylinder versions of diesel and gasoline engines on separate lines, they should able to produce all four of the next generation on one line.

A key attribute of this new production philosophy is a capacity-driven ramp up, allowing output of any engine variant to be increased in stages through the installation of additional equipment modules.

Renschler remarked that agile production system cuts their investment. He said that Mercedes is now building a preliminary system for the agile production systems in their new EUR400-million engine site in China. He called it “a kind of large-scale pilot project.”

Mercedes is aiming to regain its crown as the best-selling luxury carmaker in the world by 2020 after losing it to BMW in 2005. Worse, Audi beat it to take second place in 2011.

To reclaim the crown, Mercedes is overhauling its entire production philosophy. He said that good products are not enough for success, adding that the key is balancing complexity and costs.

He remarked that there are a number of arising challenges like the need to build up massive capacity in the different regions as well as to boost local sales to meet the demand overseas.

He cited market fluctuations as another challenge. He noted the surging product diversity and the increasingly difficult detailed sales planning. Renschler remarked that he wants to change Mercedes' production philosophy since inflexible production is increasingly turning into “Russian roulette.” [source: automotive news - sub. required]

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