Mercedes opens key climate-neutral 5G factory

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Taking two and a half years and €730m to build, Mercedes-Benz has opened its showcase Industry 4.0 factory.

Factory 56 at Sindelfingen is powered by 12,000 solar panels and 1.4MWh of second hand Mercedes batteries. Over 400 automated guided vehicles (AGVs) operate across the plant, controlled via a wireless LAN and private 5G network.

The plant is flexible enough to make traditional, hybrid and fully electric version of Mercedes vehicles, starting with the new S-Class and moving to the all electric EQS on the same lines. The concept of Factory 56 will be gradually transferred to all Mercedes-Benz car plants around the world as a blueprint says the company.

“In Factory 56 we have succeeded in combining flexibility, efficiency, digitalization and sustainability. This benefits the people who work here, our production site in Sindelfingen, our company and, of course, our customers. Factory 56 thus sets the direction for the future of automobile production at Mercedes-Benz: resource-friendly, connected and flexible. Because we consider the transformation of our industry to be a holistic task that includes products as well as the entire value chain,” said Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG.

“Factory 56 is not only a milestone in Daimler’s corporate history, but also an important commitment to Baden-Württemberg as a location for the mobility industry. The factory stands for state-of-the-art standards – both in production and in products. Digitization and decarbonization are top priorities. Probably no other product stands for this as much as the all-electric EQS, which will be produced here,” said Winfried Kretschmann, Minister President of Baden-Württemberg.

Two production lines, called TecLines, are designed to avoid fixed points in the assembly process, improving the flexibility of the entire factory. They bring together all the complex plant technologies at one point to simplify the integration of new models.

Next: 5GW photovoltaic power plant

In the TecLines, the traditional production line is replaced by driverless transport systems. To integrate a new product and incorporate any associated new equipment, it is only necessary to change the route of the automated guided vehicle (AGV).

Factory 56 is controlled by the MO360 family of software applications which are connected via shared interfaces and standardized user interfaces, using real-time data to support the worldwide vehicle production of Mercedes-Benz Cars. MO360 integrates the information from the main production processes and IT systems of the more than 30 Mercedes-Benz car plants worldwide, and brings together important software applications.

Digital tracking of each vehicle on the line via a positioning system means the vehicle data that is relevant to the employees is displayed on the line in real time, using digital devices and display screens.

On the roof of Factory 56 is a photovoltaic system which supplies the building with self-generated, green electric power. The 12,000 photovoltaic modules provide an output of over 5GWp. This is enough to cover about 30 percent of the annual power requirements of the factory, connected to a DC grid that will improve the energy efficiency of the assembly shop in the future.

A stationary energy bank based on vehicle batteries from Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH with is also connected to the DC network. With an overall capacity of 1,400 kWh, it acts as a buffer for excess solar power from the photovoltaic system. Modern lighting consisting of LEDs that give the same spectrum as sunlight, which allows the 35,000 staff across the site to work in daylight.

“Factory 56 is our most advanced automotive production facility worldwide – flexible, digital, efficient and sustainable. Everything here places people at the centre of things. It is already making the Mercedes-Benz factory of the future a reality,” said Jörg Burzer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz AG for Production and Supply Chain. “Thanks to MO360, our comprehensive, digital ecosystem, we are making production processes in Factory 56 even more transparent and setting milestones in digital pro.duction. With Factory 56, Mercedes-Benz is showing how the sustainable and efficient automotive production of tomorrow and the day after will work. We will gradually transfer the findings we obtain here to our plants all over the world. The potential is enormous.”

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