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Alabama Mercedes plant among first in world to use innovative production system

Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) in Tuscaloosa is among the first auto plants in the world to implement elements of Mercedes’ new MO360 digitized production system

Mercedes-Benz Cars Operations 360 (MO360) is being dubbed a “digital ecosystem” that uses a mix of software and hardware in all phases of the auto production process with the goal of improving efficiency and quality.

Mercedes-Benz Alabama plant incorporating new digital production system from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Using technology like sensors on the vehicle bodies to hand-held tablets and smartphones, MO360 is a merging of modern innovations like the internet of things (IOT) and artificial intelligence (AI) with the historic innovation of the assembly line.

“With MO360, Mercedes-Benz is setting milestones in digital production,” Jörg Burzer, member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz AG responsible for Production and Supply Chain Management. “The key enablers of the new digital ecosystem are smart data usage, maximum transparency and streamlined processes. This makes the seamless networking of previously separate processes possible and increase efficiency.

“Thanks to improved processes, comprehensive data availability in our MO360 data lake and fast decisions based on real-time data, we will be able to increase production efficiency by more than 15 percent by 2022,” Burzer said. “We are ensuring the complete digital support of each member of the production staff.”

Key components of MO360 include:

  • Digital Shopfloor Management (SFMdigital) that allows leaders to see the live status of production at any time, enabling quick reaction to production and control issues.
  • Quality Live is a management system that gives push-button access to the live status of each vehicle. It uses AI to constantly “learn” better ways to improve quality and efficiency in the production process. The stored knowledge is available to all the plants of the Mercedes global production network.
  • Paperless Factory uses digital technology to give each employee individually tailored information to work on the Mercedes-Benz vehicle in front of them. The move will save Mercedes tons of paper previously used in production.
  • Smart Maintenance is an application that allows for predictive maintenance at the plant. It will allow for repairing or replacing equipment more promptly to avoid long and costly downtime.
  • Auto SC will be used in the future to optimize logistical processes both between and within plants.

The Alabama Mercedes plant has incorporated most of the elements of MO360.

“Parts of MO360 – such as digital shop floor management (SFMdigital), Quality Live and Paperless Factory – are already implemented,” said Michael Goebel, president and CEO of MBUSI. “The integration of MO360 is already progressing extremely well. Some features, such as 5G and the API (Application Programming Interface) architecture, are being successively integrated.”

Technologically, MO360 relies on reusable APIs, scalable cloud solutions, and free and open source software (FOSS). The result is ease of use for the new tech-savvy worker that feels comfortable using a smartphone or tablet.

“A key success factor for MO360 lies in the fact that cross-functional teams of production and IT experts develop the ecosystem by agile and iterative collaboration,”said Jan Brecht, CIO of Daimler and Mercedes-Benz. “Organizational boundaries no longer have a role to play. All teams systematically utilize continuous feedback from production to optimize and enhance the digital tools. The teams continuously improve the software in short-cycle sprints with the aim of providing MO360 users with lasting perceptible benefits. In this way we are able to achieve regular software release cycles of just two weeks. For software engineering in the field of production, that is an absolute record.”

Burzer said the MO360 system will be made available to suppliers who want to incorporate it into their processes. He said the company’s $248.2 million Global Logistics Center in Bibb County will incorporate MO360.

It’s another sign of the talented workforce that exists in Alabama.

“MBUSI has been one of Alabama’s great success stories, so it should come as no surprise that they are once again part of the cutting-edge production innovations Mercedes-Benz is implementing on a global scale,” said Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield.

MO360 is being used in full for the first time at the new Factory 56 in Sindelfingen, Germany. When it opens next month, that plant will serve as a blueprint for all plants throughout the Mercedes-Benz Cars production network.

MBUSI produces the GLS and GLE SUVs and the GLE Coupe.

Mercedes-Benz launches MO360 global digital production system from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

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