After breaking ground on its new state-of-the-art factory back in February, Mercedes is now giving us a virtual tour of what will become the home of the next-generation S-Class. Dubbed “Factory 56,” the new plant will not only build the company’s flagship model, but also an assortment of other “upper and luxury class” models, some of which are going to be entirely electric.
The three-pointed star company claims it will be the “world’s most modern car production” assembly facility to allow Mercedes “reinvent car production” after inventing the car in 1885 when Carl Benz completed work on a one-cylinder, two-stroke vehicle with two seats and 0.75 horsepower. For a bit more history, Carl Benz applied for a patent for his “vehicle powered by a gas engine” on January 29, 1886, and his patent carrying the number 37435 “may be regarded as the birth certificate of the automobile.” The three-wheeled vehicle was reported by newspapers for the first time in July that year.
Fast forward to 2018, work is well underway at the Factory 56, which is the third largest building project in Germany. It spans across 220,000 square meters (54.36 acres) or the equivalent of 30 soccer fields. Thanks to a massive photovoltaic system mounted on the roof, CO2 emissions will be reduced by a whopping 75 percent compared to the current S-Class production in Sindelfingen by using 5,000 mWh less electricity each year.
Factory 56 serves as a window into Mercedes’ operations as it will be used as a blueprint for its facilities all over the world. The company is making cars at more than 30 locations and assembled more than 2.4 million Mercedes and Smart passenger cars last year to mark a seventh annual record in a row.
Little is known about the 2020 S-Class, although we do know it will cram even more tech inside the cabin. The fullsize luxury sedan was caught on camera by our spies in February, but that was only an early prototype covered in thick camo. Mercedes registered the S73 moniker not long ago, so it looks like the luxobarge will spawn a hot derivative – if the nameplate will actually be used.
Gallery: Mercedes-Benz Factory 56 Construction
Virtual tour through the automobile production of the future: Video - Mercedes-Benz lays the foundation stone of “Factory 56”
- “Digital, flexible, green” - latest production technologies are integrated at “Factory 56”. Main focus is on the people.
- “The ‘Factory 56’ combines three trend-setting features: It is consistently digital and flexible - and it brings the term ‘green production’ to life,” says Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain.
Stuttgart - With the groundbreaking of the car plant of the future “Factory 56” on 20th of February, a project was launched at the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant, which defines a new way of building cars. Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain, Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, Minister of Economics, Labour and Housing of the State of Baden-Württemberg, Michael Bauer, Head of Production of the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant, Dr. Bernd Vöhringer, Lord Mayor of Sindelfingen, and Ergun Lümali, Chairman of the Sindelfingen Works Council, accompanied the kick-off of the new assembly hall.
“The 'Factory 56' combines three trend-setting features: It is consistently digital and flexible - and it brings the term ‘green production’ to life,” explains Markus Schäfer. Digitized processes in the sense of Industry 4.0 are essential elements of the production concept. These include, for example, driverless transport systems (DTS) with product baskets that support logistics in the assembly and ensure the seamless supply of the required materials for the employees at the line. Through the integration of innovative Radio Frequency Identification-technologies (RFID), components and vehicles can be digitally tracked and linked with one another. Furthermore, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data analyses and Predictive Maintenance guarantee high transparency and support in production planning, control and also in quality assurance. Through the analysis, for instance, predictions on potential faults or due maintenance work can be made in advance.
Energy efficiency and environmental friendliness play a decisive role in the new production hall “Factory 56”. A photovoltaic system on the roof produces green electricity and leads to a reduction of yearly 5,000 MWh of electricity. CO2 emissions in the “ Factory 56” will be reduced by around 75 percent compared to today’s S-Class production in Sindelfingen. The translucent construction of the assembly hall creates a pleasant working climate for the employees in daylight. In addition, the temperature of the hall can be set at up to seven degrees below the outside temperature.
The human is at the centre of all activities in the “Factory 56”. The employees work at ergonomically optimised workstations and are optimally supported in their tasks by digital tools. The focus is on the use of intelligent, flexible technology.
In 2020, the “Factory 56” will already start production. Passenger cars and electric vehicles of the upper and luxury class will be produced. These include the new generation S-Class as well as the first electric vehicle of the product and technology brand EQ “made in Sindelfingen”. “With the 'Factory 56' at our Sindelfingen site, we realize the main part of our extensive investments from the transformation plan called ‘2020+’. Not least, this could be achieved because of our highly motivated and competent team. The construction of the 'Factory 56' is a commitment to our location and enables us to build high-quality and innovative vehicles of the present and future here in Sindelfingen further on. I am proud that the next groundbreaking step within the production of Mercedes-Benz Cars starts in Sindelfingen,” says Michael Bauer.
About Mercedes-Benz Cars Operations
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 the 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. Mercedes-Benz Cars is ready for the electro mobility: Around the globe electro hubs are built for the production of electric vehicles and batteries. The focus of day-to-day work is on the continuous improvement and refinement of state-of-the-art production methods, which allow future high-tech vehicles to be produced in a way that is efficient, flexible and environmentally friendly, according to the typical Mercedes-Benz quality standards. All of this revolves around the employees and their expertise, whose work is systematically supported by ergonomic workplace design and intelligent automation. In addition to its own production plants, Mercedes-Benz is increasingly leveraging partnerships and utilizing capacities at contract manufacturers as part of its growth strategy.