Big Surprise: Mercedes Replaces Robots with New Workers

Mercedes Benz abolishes assembly line robot in his greatest work and adjusts workers instead. Why? Because robots are not too inflexible. An example that shows where there are currently limits rely in industry 4.0.The Mercedes plant in Sindelfingen is assembly-line robots at the door. Dismissal: “Robots do not cope with the degree of individualization and the many variations that we have today”, said production Chief Markus Schäfer of the news agency Bloomberg. “We save money and protect our future, we hire more workers.”

With the new E-class, which comes to the market in March, a worker is, for example, in the future incorporate the head-up display on the windshield. So far, two fixed robots took over the job.

Mounting of the S-class Coupe: the customer can make details on request. This individualization overwhelmed robot. Photo: Daimler
Mounting of the S-class Coupe: the customer can make details on request. This individualization overwhelmed robot. Photo: Daimler

Heatable drink holder: Mercedes-Benz relies on individualization

Mercedes-Benz is always more individual in car construction. A buyer optins for the S-Class sedan, can choose detailed on request four different types of tyre valve flaps, carbon coatings to back to heated Cup holders. “This variance is too much for the machines,” says Schäfer. “You can not cope with the many different options.” It is di

New teams of skilled workers to roll the plant in Sindelfingen, annually 400,000 vehicles made by the ban giving necessary flexibility to stuffs. Production lines have changed within a weekend, to build faster many trim levels with various extras. So far take often expensive weeks of inactivity where engineers need to make tags and reprogram robots.

tory production Robots February 2013
The company KUKA robots work in February 2013 at the VW plant in Wolfsburg on the production line for the VW Golf VII. Photo: Julian Stratenschulte

Completely abstain from robots. Company don’t want the Mercedes plant fully atomized. We should still do painting and welding, assist workers with handles that are constantly repeated, Schäfer said . They should but no longer sealed off behind security bars available but should work directly with the people as well.

Show up here the limits of industry 4.0?

This change of strategy against the background of the industry 4.0 hype is interesting. Because again and again is the talk of the factory of the future, in the raw materials of micro computer and radio interface with machines communicate.

This interaction eliminates a central factory control and rigid production lines in theory and enables the cost-effective production of smallest product lines exactly according to the customer’s wishes.

But the way is far, even for companies of the automotive industry which are among the pioneers in the industry when it comes to automation. And until then, human workers offer greater flexibility as the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen robotic team can offer.