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Mercedes-Benz Cars invests €1B in new “Full-Flex” car plant in Hungary; Factory 56 applied to full plant

Mercedes-Benz Cars is starting construction of its first “Full-Flex Plant“ in Kecskemét, Hungary, about 90 km in the south of Budapest. Overall, the company is investing €1 billion in the new car plant and creating more than 2,500 jobs. The first global “Full-Flex Plant” of Mercedes-Benz Cars is based on the “Factory 56” principles introduced in February (earlier post), and is thus digitized consistently, designed for sustainable production and puts the human at the center of all activities.

With an investment of one billion euros, we are building in Hungary the first ‘Full-Flex Plant’ in the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars. In a ‘Full-Flex Plant’, several vehicle architectures from compact models to rear-wheel drive sedans and various drive forms, including electric vehicles, can be flexibly produced on one line. Thereby we lift the production concept of ‘Factory 56’ to the next level.

—Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Manufacturing and Supply Chain

The new car plant in Kecskemét consists of a press shop, a body-in-white shop, a paint shop and an assembly. The plant is highly efficient and has a CO2-neutral energy supply. With the “Full-Flex Plant“, Mercedes-Benz Cars is creating additional capacity and also technical requirements for the flexible production of future vehicles. This includes passenger cars with a wide variety of body and drive variants. Both passenger cars with conventional drive variants and also electric vehicles using the latest technology in automated driving can be produced under the premise of safety and in compliance with the statutory regulations.

In February, Mercedes-Benz Cars presented “Factory 56” in Sindelfingen, one of the most modern car production facilities in the world. The human is at the center of all activities and it is consistently “Digital, flexible, green”. Core elements are the digital interconnection of the infrastructure including the digital control of the material flow and the quality control. Tablets, handhelds, smartphones and smart watches support employees in their daily work. The plant is not only digitized consistently according to Industry 4.0, it is also connected to other productions in the global production network.

The company is now transferring the blue print of “Factory 56” to a complete factory. Because all parts of the plant—from the press shop to assembly—are new, the entire production flow can be optimally coordinated. In addition to the fully flexible production of vehicles with front- or rear-wheel drives, other types, such as electric drives, can also be produced on the same line. Production will start at the beginning of the next decade.

For the new Full-Flex Plant, 972,700 m3 of earth are being moved. The area under construction is 382,033 m2. This corresponds to approximately 54 soccer fields. More than 17,000 tons of steel will be used in the construction of the second plant at the Kecskemét site. With this amount of steel, around 1.7 Eiffel Towers in Paris could be built.

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Already in the planning phase, the “Full-Flex Plant“ is fully digitally depicted and optimized. Production is based on “Lean Production” specifications and includes an ideal plant layout with short distances and processing times for maximum efficiency with a common pulse rate throughout the entire production process. This also includes human-machine cooperation and digitally supported processes, including work organization, logistics and quality assurance.

The body-in-white shop also has new production concepts: From the very first component, the production sequence is defined as in a pearl chain. In the body-in-white shop of the future, the individual stations are flexibly combined. Due to this flexibility, different derivatives of a series can be manufactured simultaneously. Today, this requires several specific production lines.

Modern logistics concepts are also integrated. State-of-the-art Pick-by-Light or Pick-by-Voice technologies are used in the picking areas. While with Pick-by-Light the articles and quantities to be allocated are transmitted to the order picker via a compartment display arranged directly at the picking compartment, the Pick-by-voice employee receives the orders from the warehouse management system via radio directly into the ear.

The employees work at ergonomically optimized workstations and are optimally supported in their tasks by digital tools. The focus is on the use of intelligent, flexible technology. Intelligent human-machine cooperation makes partial automation possible to relieve humans.

Characteristic for the automobile production of the future and thus also for the second plant at the Kecskemét site are modular building structures with a design that is both energy efficient and green, so environmentally friendly. Furthermore, the avoidance of waste and the reduction of water consumption are a guideline that is applied throughout the entire operation of the site. Finally, the second plant at the Kecskemét site uses renewable energies and will therefore have a CO2-neutral energy supply.

Mercedes-Benz Cars Operations is responsible for passenger car production at over 30 locations around the world. Three of them are currently being established. Within a flexible and efficient production network with around 78,000 employees it includes the central functions of production planning, TECFACTORY, logistics, and quality.

Mercedes-Benz Cars produced more than 2.4 million Mercedes-Benz and smart passenger cars last year, marking the seventh record in a row. The network is based on the product architectures of front-wheel drive (compact cars) and rear-wheel drive (for example the S-Class, E-Class, and C-Class) as well as SUV and sports car architectures. In addition, there is a powertrain production compound (engines, transmissions, axles and components).

Each of these production compounds is grouped around a lead plant that serves as a center of competence for the ramp-up of new products, technology and quality assurance. Around the globe, electro hubs are being built for the production of electric vehicles and batteries.

The Mercedes-Benz plant in Kecskemét has about 4,000 employees. In 2017, it produced more than 190,000 Mercedes-Benz compact vehicles. The first model to roll off the line in Kecskemét was the Mercedes-Benz B-Class in 2012. It was followed by the four-door CLA compact coupe in 2013 and by the CLA Shooting Brake in 2015. Both of these models are produced exclusively in Kecskemét for the world market. In 2018, the new A-Class will also join the product range of the Hungarian production site.

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