E-Class Wagon visits Supplier


Rolled off the line two kilometers away as the crow flies in Sindelfingen, and now visiting a supplier: the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon at the Gemeinnützige Werkstätten (GWW).

First there’s amazement, then come the smiles. A Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon drives into the dispatch area of supplier GWW via the dispatch ramp. The car rolled off the line at the Sindelfingen plant in Germany, almost within sight. Now the “S213”, as the model series is referred to internally, is visiting the place where components are processed and picked in a just-in-sequence process. Tailgate spoiler, D-pillar paneling and luggage compartment cover. And the water baffle/air intake, gap filler/wheel housing and floor mats that are shared with the W213 model series (E-Class sedan). The GWW employees working on the S213 project are enthusiastic: “It’s great how it looks when our parts are installed.”

"Look, our water baffles are installed here!" - GWW employees inspecting the finished product.

The special thing about GWW is that it employs people with disabilities or mental illnesses. The supplier has a total of around 1,000 employees, spread among 10 locations in the Böblingen and Calw districts, close to Stuttgart. GWW stands for Gemeinnützige Werkstätten und Wohnstätten GmbH (Charitable Workshops and Residences GmbH). The people with disabilities are working as a form of rehabilitation, as governed by Germany’s Social Code. They would not be able to work in the general employment market on account of their disabilities. By working with clients such as Daimler AG, GWW offers its employees useful and interesting fields of work. “GWW integrates people with disabilities into the world of work,” says Klaus Zehender, Member of the Divisional Board Mercedes-Benz Cars for Procurement & Supplier Quality (MP). He also adds: “But there is no special status associated with the awarding of the contract. The same selection and evaluation criteria are applied to GWW as for all other Mercedes-Benz suppliers.”

The partnership between GWW and Mercedes-Benz dates all the way back to 1973. It started with the production of key pouches. The volumes steadily rose in the years that followed. Orders from Daimler are currently securing employment for around 220 people with disabilities at GWW. Klaus Zehender: “Over the years, GWW has built up an impressive production network near the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant, from which it supplies us with parts – all precisely coordinated with our production cycles and sequences, and all displaying outstanding quality”. Zehender regularly drops in to visit GWW’s production facilities, and has the employees explain the individual work steps to him themselves.

The striking thing when walking around GWW’s production facilities is the good atmosphere. This is confirmed by GWW’s CEO Andrea Stratmann: “Our employees like working for Mercedes-Benz. They are proud that a little of their work can be seen in all vehicles produced at the Sindelfingen plant. Many of them identify strongly with their jobs, and they are pleased to be able to contribute toward the production of a Mercedes-Benz”. They are of course particularly happy when the new E-Class wagon comes to visit. Not just looking, but they simply have to sit in it, ideally in the driver’s seat. So this is how top quality feels in the finished product. Of course those with an interest in technology want to take a look under the hood. A few quick selfies and then the S213 has to be on its way again, leaving behind beaming faces and an extra helping of motivation for day-to-day work.

Surrounded by admiring GWW employees: the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon fuel consumption combined: 8.6 – 4.2 l/100 km, CO2 emissions combined: 197-109 g/km, efficiency class: D-A+.


Nov 15, 2016
Rasmus Muttscheller