Mercedes-Benz today commenced the production of the new S Class from its production facility in Sindelfingen. Interestingly, the plant has been witnessing pilot testing for automated driving in production for the S-Class and is expected to take Mercedes-Benz’s ‘Intelligent Drive’ concept for autonomous driving to the next level. On the new assembly line, cameras, together with radar and ultrasonic sensors work in conjunction with advanced software to accelerate and brake the S-Class independently and ensure that it stays on track.
With the technical prerequisites for automated driving from the assembly line to the loading area have been put in place, the Sindelfingen plant is currently piloting the possible use of the system for series production and investigating its further potential. The carmaker said that the pilot test provides an opportunity to gather practical experience for the future of autonomous driving on public roads, which can be used in for further development.
The start of production for the new and updated S-Class brings the introduction of Mercedes-Benz’s state-of-the-art manufacturing processes and Industry 4.0 solutions in the assembly area. Within its global production network, the Sindelfingen plant is the centre of competence for upper-range and luxury-class vehicles. “Within the production of the new S-Class, we combine the advantages of Industry 4.0 methods with the expertise and cognitive skills of our employees. The manufacturing of a perfect Mercedes-Benz S-Class depends on high-tech methods, but most importantly, upon the commitment and passion of our employees. We see evidence of that every day here in Sindelfingen,” said Michael Bauer, Site Manager and Head of Production at the Mercedes-Benz plant Sindelfingen.
The plant closely integrates its operations with sophisticated IT systems and communication technology, which results in material flow optimisation, improved flexibility and efficiency, and enhanced ergonomics for the workforce. A tracking system detects vehicles in a virtual image of the factory in real time. Mounted transmitters can accurately identify the position of the vehicles on the assembly line and can exchange data with devices such as wireless wi-fi screwdrivers. This enables the electronic documentation of data, such as the torque, for quality assurance.
The flexible delivery of small-load carriers to the production line is ensured by a system known as FLOW (Flexible Logistics Optimised Warehouse). This driverless picking system provides the supply of materials to the production line as and when required. The entire system is currently part of a pilot test that aims to validate the system for series production for the new S-Class. The small-load carriers are transported autonomously around the shop floor via a guidance system with reference magnets embedded in the hall floor and can be automatically allocated to any specific storage shelf. The driverless picking system is equipped with laser scanners for safety, which prevent potential collisions.
The TecFactory in Sindelfingen, in which Mercedes-Benz has networked its design, development, sales & marketing, purchasing and production divisions, enables the company to remain at the forefront in terms of both products and production technology. The various disciplines work together from a very early stage of the product development process. Digitalisation remains crucial across the board, creating the foundation for a highly flexible production system and the increasing individualisation of vehicles in line with customers’ requirements.
Several new engines are planned for the new S-Class, which include an in-line six-cylinder unit in diesel and petrol forms as well as a new V8 biturbo petrol engine. In addition, Mercedes-Benz plans a plug-in hybrid with an electric range of about 50 kms. Futuristic technologies such as the 48-volt Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) and the electric booster compressor (eZV) will also be featured for the first time on the new S-Class