The Black Forest shines out into the World

Wilko Stark visiting supplier GWW in Black Forest.

It's not only her eyes that glow. They help to ensure that Mercedes-Benz vehicles do the same. And all this without dazzling. In the Black Forest, people with disabilities preassemble the headlamp range control.

‘First, I put these two connection pieces on top of each other, then I put the screws on and then….’ Elke Müller proudly explains her operation steps. She is an employee with disabilities at the Gemeinnützige Werk- und Wohnstätten (GWW) in the Calw plant. Here in the northern Black Forest, the automatic headlamp range control for the new generations of compact cars and SUVs is preassembled. And delivered to Mercedes-Benz plants on three continents. Wilko Stark, Member of the Divisional Board of Management Mercedes-Benz Cars, Procurement & Supplier Quality listens with interest: ‘I am impressed by the work performed here and delighted that we have been able to further expand our good partnership with GWW.’ GWW has been supplying to Mercedes-Benz plants since 1973. After starting with little leather key pouches, the partnership continued to develop across many model series and components. Production takes place at several locations in the districts of Calw and Böblingen (Baden-Württemberg, Germany). In total, GWW employs around 1000 people with disabilities or mental illness.

At GWW, the system for preassembling the automatic headlamp range control is designed in such a way that a varying number of people with disabilities and different abilities can work on it. The necessary high quality of the parts is guaranteed at all times. The special feature of the system is that people can work together at different speeds without the overall process coming to a standstill. At the push of a button, anyone can request their own assembly device which they then load with individual parts at their own speed and in the correct sequence. The device is then pushed onto a conveyor belt which transports the component to the fully automatic threaded connection.

Mercedes-Benz A class sedan at supplier GWW. Group photo with Wilko Stark.
Group photo at the GWW plant in Calw with the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class sedan.

Currently one production line is in operation at the GWW in Calw. A second one will go into operation in the first quarter of 2019 for further orders. A total of up to 30 people with disabilities can then be employed in the production of the headlamp range control. Andrea Stratmann, Chief Executive of GWW: ‘Our employees are proud that Mercedes-Benz vehicles also contain a little bit of their own work. Many of our employees strongly identify with their work and are happy to be able to contribute to the production of a Mercedes.’ This great joy can be seen in the glowing eyes of the employee Elke Müller.

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