A Well-Sorted project for the new C-Class
A new central body sorter at the Mercedes-Benz East London Plant in South Africa is one of numerous projects that are essential for the production of the new generation C-Class from 2021. Jerry Windvogel from Daimler International Procurement Services shares the details.
Editors: Mr. Windvogel, what exactly is a central body sorter?
Jerry Windvogel: Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) produces C-Class Sedan models. In order to facilitate the process of production and prepare for the new generation of C-Class, we use a central body sorter.
A sorter functions as a fully automated warehouse facility for storing painted and unpainted car bodies. It has a capacity of approximately 360 places, thereby creating a consolidated buffer system and eliminating the various small buffer places here in the East London Plant.
So it is kind of a storage for production?
More of a buffer. You see, the car sorter allows more flexibility and efficiency with sequencing of bodies in the complete production chain between Bodyshop, Paintshop and Assembly. Through this storage methodology, we expand the production floor area by eliminating the previous smaller buffer areas.
Such a complex project surely calls for different partners. What was the role of the procurement department?
International Procurement Services played a role in collaboration with our business partners through early involvement. For example, we analyzed the supplier landscape in the worldwide market, to identify existing and new entrants. This led to sourcing a highly qualified new market entrant, who not only delivered outstanding quality within the timeline but also met our budget targets as anticipated.
Such a complex project can often be challenging. Anything you want to share with us?
Yes, there were some challenges (smiles). But basically only four main ones.
Firstly, we collaborated with a new market entrant with no prior projects for Daimler outside China. Fortunately, our supplier worked diligently and in close collaboration with us.
Secondly, we had a multi-disciplined team consisting of Factory Planning in Germany and South Africa, as well as a procurement specialists form Germany and South Africa. We mounted this challenge in two ways: For one thing, by performing the onsite assessment of all teams, local and global, to establish the capability of the suppliers. And for another thing: excellent time management. We involved all key players early and managed to eliminate concerns or fears in awarding such a critical project to a new market entrant in South Africa.
A third challenge was time. As already mentioned, it was the first turnkey project in South Africa with this supplier and we had to design, manufacture and ship the complete structure from China to South Africa within a critical timeline.
And last but not least: The turnkey project planning lead was Factory Planning for the Building and Conveyor Technique, with the latter being the biggest part of the whole project. The cross-functional project team worked successfully together, and thus secured the relevant competence and skill.
When you look back on the whole project, which characteristics and features – both from you and from the supplier – played a major role in enabling a successful cooperation?
Definitely trust, openness, partnership and commitment to a common objective.
Thank you Mr. Windvogel and congratulations again to this successful project!