Mercedes-Benz wants more flexible engine lines image

Production and purchasing boss Andreas Renschler said he wants Mercedes-Benz wants to establish a so-called “agile production” system in its engine assembly operations.

The Daimler subsidiary aims to regain the crown as the world’s top-selling premium carmaker by 2020. It lost its lead to BMW in 2005 and slipped to third behind Audi in 2011. To get back to the top, Renschler said Mercedes is changing its entire production philosophy.

“Inflexible production is increasingly turning into Russian roulette – especially in the premium segment where the volumes are lower and the diversity of models and derivatives is greater,” Renschler said.

“Though we are producing the four- and six-cylinder versions of diesel and gasoline engines on separate lines so far, we will be able to manufacture all four variations of the next generation on one line,” he told the Automobilwoche Congress last week.

A capacity-driven ramp up is a key attribute of this new production philosophy. Whatever the variant, production can be increased in stages with the installation of additional equipment modules, he said.

“This reduces our investment,” he said. “We are now building a preliminary system for the agile production systems – a kind of large-scale pilot project – in our new engine plant in China.”

The 400-million euro factory, opened this week, is the first outside Germany to make engines for Mercedes passenger cars. At the same time, the Stuttgart automaker is expanding its capacity in growth markets and is using its regular factories in Germany to support the ramp up of foreign production and ensure high quality standards.

Via Automotive News Europe