Mercedes-Benz currently manufactures its most successful model, the C-Class, at four sites around the world: in Bremen, in Tuscaloosa in the USA, in East London in South Africa and in Beijing. Four sites on four continents, tens of thousands of employees, countless model variants – this is the Champions League of logistics.
And Andrea Schreiber is a key player. As head of production start-up logistics at Mercedes-Benz in Bremen, she ensures that everything runs smoothly whenever there is a new model or when there are changes to the current model. And not just in Bremen, but at all the other plants. “We ensure that every part is available in the right place at the right time, and with the right quality, whenever a new model or other changes are pending. We coordinate the suppliers around the world. This requires considerable skill and attention to detail,” says Schreiber, who was born in Stuttgart and has been living in Bremen for 30 years.
Highly detailed international deployment planning
In its role as lead plant, the C-Class manufacturing facility in Bremen fulfils a range of tasks for the model series, such as planning capacity and production trials, managing international deployments and coordinating parts for production start-ups. This means considering questions such as: which model variants are being built where and in what quantity? When will changes in production be adopted? How can I ensure that all parts are in the right place at the right time? When can suppliers deliver parts to which site?
From 0 to 60 – how a new series begins
The site in Bremen is always the first to run a C-Class start-up. Cars are initially built in Sindelfingen during the pre-production phase, during which final teething problems are fixed and manufacturing defects are identified before going into full production. Once this has been completed, the production tests start at the lead plant in Bremen, and the experience gained here is passed on to the other production plants. In some cases, the vehicles are integrated into series production at an early stage of the product development process at the lead plant in Bremen – there are no separate assembly lines and factory halls. “You just feel like you want to be there and supervise every step,” says Schreiber with a smile.