My story pales to the VW announcement on the "Clean Diesel" or not so clean.
This September we had the great pleasure to take a private tour of the main Mercedes plant in Sindelfingen Germany. Of course being in the metal forming industry, it was a great treat to see how one of the worlds finest and oldest car makers puts it all together. As you can see in the photo above, cars are made up of 400 to 600 metal stampings and 300 to 500 forgings.
We arrived at the Kunden-Center new car pick up location just outside of Stuttgart to pick up our new station wagon (lower left). As you can imagine we were excited about this and the 9 countries we were about to visit. When they rolled out the sedan version I could not believe that 8 months of advance planning had gone haywire. Mercedes stepped up to the plate, apologized and let us take the new sedan for our trip. In the meantime they are building the wagon we ordered.
During the time it took for Mercedes to figure out where the mistake was made, they offered a private tour of the production and assembly sections of the main plant. The photos (above) are one of six tandem press lines for producing inner and outer body panels. We arrived just in time for die change over which I timed at just under 8 minutes from last hit to first hit. Below you can see the 3D model for press to press automation.
Steel and Aluminum coils are delivered by rail and stored to feed press production lines, photo (below).
S-Class body automated fixture holding and welding cells.
Once we started into the assembly areas, it was truly amazing to have an inside look at the automation and parts retrieval systems. Not only do they vary in color but also in model types. As you can see (above) this is a new S-Class upper body being delivered to the lower chassis system. The photo (below) is the Master Control system for all production lines, fantastic.
Photo (below) is a new E-Class sedan that is painted and on its way for interior assembly. The transport system is elevated and moves from building to building to deliver the components to the next phase of assembly.
Once the cars arrive at interior assembly the Kuka robot take over. As you can see (below) complete dash assembly is installed with robots.
Since manufacturing is the heartbeat of SUTHERLAND PRESSES, our tour guide had to slow down the tour to give me the time to absorb all of the processes that are implemented by one of the leaders in the automotive industry.
Gumball rally cars where also on display from the AMG performance division. It was amazing to see the extent that private investors will spend on street illegal cars. One of the cool items printed on the cars was the reverse print on the noses / hoods that said "MOVE OVER".
If you have read this far and are into metal forming or forging, be sure to contact Team Sutherland for your next production line acquisition. You can also see us at the upcoming Fabtech-Metalform Show November 9th to 12th, 2015 in Chicago. We will have 4 presses under power and will be showcasing our I-PRESS AB PLUS press and automation control.
Mark Sutherland, President