More than just floor mats

Mercedes-Benz Cars supplier GWW.

Floor mats for more than 310,000 vehicles annually. Delivered just in sequence to the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen. For supplier GWW and the people with physical disabilities who work there, that's definitely not everything.

It all began 44 years ago. With key pouches made of leather. Later came the floor mats. For every vehicle that rolls off the assembly line at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen, the floor mats are packed so that they can be laid in the vehicle in the right order. This job is done by the employees of Gemeinnützige Werkstätten und Wohnstätten (GWW). At the GWW location in Böblingen near to the plant. At eight locations GWW employs around 1000 people with physical disabilities or mental illness.


“It is wonderful to see how much commitment and motivation is put into the work at GWW to deliver components flawlessly just in sequence right to the assembly line”, praised Klaus Zehender. As a member of the Mercedes-Benz Cars Board of Management responsible for Procurement & Supplier Quality, Zehender is a regular visitor to GWW. An optimized process was proudly presented at his last visit to Böblingen: An improvement in the maintenance cap of the tank pump of the E-Class. Originally, it had a rigid seal that had to be glued on by hand using a lot of pressure. GWW employees had the idea of automatically applying a kind of foam instead. The seal now needs much less pressure to be installed, and even some screws are saved in the process.

Klaus Zehender visiting Mercedes-Benz supplier GWW.
"Great idea!" - Dr. Klaus Zehender with GWW employees Sven Breitling and Antonija Limow. Right: Matthias Guth, Deputy Managing Director of GWW.

At GWW, even more items are assembled and sequenced for the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, including water deflectors, door and radiator grilles and backlight antennas, for example. Mercedes-Benz is now expanding its cooperation with GWW. The automatic headlight range adjustment for future vehicle generations will be preassembled by employees with disabilities. In 2018, GWW will also produce parts for the new compact class and the next generation of SUVs. For the Mercedes-Benz plants on three continents.

Klaus Zehender assembling a backlight at supplier GWW.
Dr. Klaus Zehender with GWW employee Helmut Volle while assembling a backlight.

Even though GWW employees are affected by their disabilities and need support in the workplace, Mercedes-Benz does not confer workshops like the GWW special status as suppliers. They are evaluated and selected according to the normal criteria. Top quality is expected from them, too. And with the process optimization of the maintenance-cap assembly of the tank pump, the GWW team has proven that they can also score points with innovative ideas.