Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Mercedes-Benz starts passenger-car production in Brazil, workforce trained in India

Markus Schaefer and Piyush Arora during Iracemapolis Plant Opening, Brazil

Mercedes-Benz starts passenger-car production in Brazil

Mercedes-Benz India played a key role in the training and production process familiarization for the Brazilian workforce, in its production facility in Chakan, Pune. The training was conducted in September and November 2015

Iracemápolis/Pune–Mercedes-Benz has started production at its new passenger-car plant in Brazil, thereby extending its worldwide production network as part of the “Mercedes-Benz 2020” growth strategy. The new site at Iracemápolis in the Sao Paulo metropolitan area was officially opened by representatives of Daimler AG at a ceremony attended by guests from politics, industry and society. The first vehicle to roll off the production line was a black C-Class Saloon.

“The opening of the Mercedes-Benz Iracemápolis plant is a further milestone in the development of our flexible and efficient production network. The global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars comprises 26 locations which are organized in production compounds according to the vehicle architecture. With the local production, we are strengthening our global competitiveness and will be closer to our Brazilian customers and their needs for passenger cars of the premium brand Mercedes-Benz,” says Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management.

Strong commitment to Brazil as a key location

Following the production start of the C-Class at the Mercedes-Benz Iracemápolis plant, the GLA compact SUV will also be rolling off the production line beginning this summer. In the first stage, the plant is designed for an annual capacity of 20,000 vehicles. Mercedes-Benz achieved record unit sales in Brazil in 2015.

“We believe in the long-term perspective of the passenger-car market in Brazil,” declares Schäfer. “The plant in Iracemápolis points the way ahead for our medium-sized plants in terms of layout and technology. The plant’s level of automation is significantly lower than in traditional Mercedes-Benz plants. Thereby, we achieve a highly flexible and top-quality production to satisfy local demand.” As part of the global production network, Iracemápolis is connected to all Mercedes-Benz Cars locations around the world, allowing a location-independent access to production data and process management. Every single installation and every robot, for example, can be centrally managed and updated to new software programmes.

Qualification within the network: India as leading training location

In terms of training for the Brazilian workforce, employees were sent to other Mercedes-Benz plants where they were able to familiarise themselves with the production processes and further integrate the new location into the international plant network through personal relations. One of the leading locations here was the sister plant in Pune, India, which likewise produces the C-Class.

Roland Folger, Managing Director & CEO, Mercedes-Benz India commented, “It’s a matter of immense pride for us that Mercedes-Benz India was chosen to train the Brazilian colleagues and familiarize them with the production process, towads setting up the new assembly plant in Iracemápolis. India is a forerunner amongst Mercedes-Benz’s assembly plants globally, and in the past we have already supported the plant in Vietnam in the global network. Both the teams gained in creating trust, a bond of friendship beyond cultures and continents, and being an ideal example demonstrating the strength of collaborative working. Our contribution in training the Brazilian colleagues also strongly underscores our prowess and rich experience in local production of luxury cars, which we have pioneered 20 years back in India.”

Piyush Arora, Exceutive Director, Operations, Mercedes-Benz India elaborated, “The training for the Brazilian workforce was targeted to build a competent team required to smoothly start-up and run the production process in Brazil. We trained our Brazilian colleagues on how to build a product in the right sequence, with the right tools, in the right time. It was a highly enriching experience for both the teams and it endows the trust, ability and competence level of the local team seen as a benchmark plant in Mercedes-Benz’s Production Network.”

Mr. Arora further added, “The intercultural experience for both teams has been immense and heartening. This is yet another instance of Mercedes-Benz’s leadership in local manufacturing, the core of which comprises our highly skilled staff members and operators in Chakan, Pune, who ensures our production quality conforms to the most stringent global standards, and creates new benchmark in manufacturing for the luxury car industry in India”

Mercedes-Benz India’s training focused on creating customized programs which emphasized on Product Quality, Production Processes and Production Systems with a clear focus on shop floor Leadership and Ownership, without losing sight on the safety aspects. The training module being imparted, familiarized the Brazilian colleagues about the Mercedes-Benz Production system and its core philosophy of ‘Doing it right the first time’, which is being followed at every Mercedes-Benz plant around the world. The training module developed by Mercedes-Benz India, also detailed the different processes and systems involved in manufacturing the vehicle, including all aspects of vehicle manufacturing comprising Quality, Body shop, Paint shop, Assembly, Logistics and Planning.

The Brazil Production and Planning team have been interacting with the Indian counterparts to share experiences for the execution of their facility and smooth start-up. As integral part of the training programme, the multiplier training for the Brazilian team took place at the Chakan plant in September and November 2015. The team from Brazil received a head start with the training and understanding of the intricacies of different processes. The training imparted at Mercedes-Benz India enabled creating a competent workforce to start a new product on a new line. Some employees also spent several weeks training at the Mercedes-Benz Bremen plant (Germany), the lead plant for the C-Class, and at the Kecskemét plant (Hungary), which produces compact models.

Construction in record time

Mercedes-Benz invests a total of over BRL 600 million in the new passenger-car site creating 600 jobs at the plant. Further jobs are being generated at suppliers and service providers in the region. Just 19 months elapsed between the concept decision and the start of production. “At Mercedes-Benz, we have tried-and-tested standards and factory kits for our passenger-car plants, both for planning and for installations and processes. Their implementation enabled an extremely short construction period and ensured that the plant was up and running quickly. The rapid project success was facilitated by highly capable partners and the dedication of our team,” adds Schäfer.

Mercedes-Benz's global assembly network

The new plant in Brazil is part of Mercedes-Benz’s global assembly network. This network also includes the production facilities in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. At these locations, Mercedes-Benz produces vehicles in various extension levels for local markets.

About Mercedes-Benz India:

Established in 1994, Mercedes-Benz India Pvt. Ltd. pioneered the luxury car market in India and boasts of more than 130 years of cutting edge innovation in the luxury automobile industry globally. Set up in 2009, Mercedes-Benz India’s world class production facility is spread over 100 acres in Chakan near Pune. Since June 2015, Mercedes-Benz India also commenced production from its new expanded production facility located in the same premises. The production facility now carries an investment of INR 1000+ crores and has the largest installed production capacity for any luxury car maker in India.

Mercedes-Benz India product portfolio comprises the locally produced Mercedes Maybach S 500, S-Class, E-Class, C-Class, CLA sedans and the GLA, GLE and the GL-Class SUVs. Completely Built imported cars portfolio includes the A-Class, B-Class, CLS, SLK, E-Class Cabriolet, S-Class Coupé, and the S 600 Guard a range of other Guard vehicles etc. The product portfolio also comprises the iconic off-roader Mercedes-AMG G 63 as well as a wide range of other Mercedes-AMG performance cars like the AMG CLA 45, AMG C 63 S, AMG E 63, AMG SLK 55, AMG S 63 Coupe, AMG GL 63, AMG ML 63, AMG S 63, AMG GLA 45, GLE 450 AMG Coupe and AMG GT S. Given Mercedes-Benz’s continuous success in India across myriad spectrum of sales, network, operations, services, finance, etc. 2016 will be the cornerstone to inculcate the spirit of winning despite emerging market challenges.

‘Winning with Mercedes-Benz’ philosophy is also derived from the unrivalled success created by the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team in the highly competitive Formula 1 in the past years. In 2016, Mercedes-Benz will initiate a range of innovative customer oriented initiatives which are ‘winning’ in nature and will further underline the brand’s strong customer centric approach. In 2016, Mercedes-Benz began its ‘winning’ motto with the launch of the fascinating GLE 450 AMG Coupe, as the first product of the year. The second launch Mercedes-Maybach S600 Guard is the costliest product from Mercedes-Benz India fleet. The company has also been ranked number one in the J.D. Power Customer Service Index 2015, among the luxury brands for the second year in a row. Mercedes-Benz India registered a historic 32% year-on-year growth by selling 13502 units in the Jan–December 2015 period and became the No. 1 luxury car brand in terms of sales volumes, as well. For the third consecutive year, Mercedes-Benz India has witnessed a double digit growth and has emerged as the ‘most awarded luxury car brand’ in India. The brand has won as many as 30 prestigious automotive awards conferred by different media houses across India, the highest won by any luxury automotive brand in India this year.