Stars, Stripes and Sprinters
The North American vans market is growing. In order to be able to respond to this trend even faster and more cost-effectively in the future, the next generation of the Sprinter will roll off the line at the new US plant in North Charleston. The ground was broken in July 2016, and the local procurement team has been an important part of the project from the beginning.
The new plant expands the existing assembly facility and builds it up into a complete production facility. The Procurement NPM Vans team within International Procurement Services (IPS) is responsible for purchasing non-production materials and services. It also identifies new partners – meaning that there are big opportunities for suppliers. One focus is on the national procurement network in the US.
The Next Big Thing
There are already around 200 employees producing Sprinters for the North American market in North Charleston, in a production facility with a total area of around 38,000 square meters. More than 110,000 units of the large van have been produced here for customers in the US and Canada since 2006. In March 2015, Mercedes-Benz Vans announced that it was investing around 500 million dollars in the construction of a new production plant – in addition to the existing assembly operations. The facility will cover approximately 105,000 square meters. It is creating up to 1,300 jobs as well as around 400 new jobs among suppliers in the region according to estimates.
The building work has already begun, and production of the next generation of the Sprinter should start here by the end of the decade. The purchasing team of Sebastian Tokouzbalidis, Procurement NPM Vans, has been involved in the project from the beginning, and has played a part in this way at an early stage. “Our focus is on building up the plant and on project support. From the very first day,” Tokouzbalidis reports, before adding: “The direct feedback allows us to experience the progress of the project every day, and we can take action and provide support quickly.”
Wanted: Strong Partners
IPS is looking for first-class suppliers in order to support its project. “We have reduced costs significantly by working closely with suppliers and coming up with joint ideas for value engineering,” reports Ulf Nordmann, who is in charge of the Procurement Production Equipment/ NAFTA unit. The purchasing unit is making use of its entire global network in its search for new suppliers. Strong partners are identified as part of intensive selection processes.
The expansion of the plant offers significant opportunities for suppliers, whether they are based in South Carolina or anywhere else in the world. We therefore look forward to finding strong partners who want to work hand-in-hand with us in order to make the project a success.
Milestone for the Future
The ground was broken for the construction of the Sprinter production facility on July 27, 2016. Prominent guests from the fields of business and politics, and a large number of representatives from the media attended the event together with the workforce, Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, and Nikki Haley, the Governor of South Carolina. Frank Klein, Head of Operations Mercedes-Benz Vans, explains the extent to which the new Sprinter plant is also a big leap into the future of production at Mercedes-Benz Vans as follows: “We are combining all of our global expertise and experience in this plant. In doing so, we make it one of the most advanced facilities in North America.” Eyes on the prize: the highest standards of quality from the very first vehicle.
Strong suppliers are required from the first steps of the project in order to work with Mercedes-Benz Vans to construct the new US plant in North Charleston. By means of the selection process, IPS aims at finding suppliers with whom long-term partnerships can also be entered into.