I returned from Germany about a month ago now. Sorry for the delay in posting!
There are no pictures from the Test Track at Unterturkheim, the Mercedes-Benz Engine Production Plant in Cannstatt, or from inside the AMG factory in Affalterbach, which were certainly some of the best parts of the trip. Mercedes closely guards their secrets and we were not allowed to take pictures there. I have included an old stock picture from Unterturkheim because I couldn’t put into words what we got to experience there!
The Engine Plant was striking in how clean and efficient it was. They pride themselves on high standards for the workers, including a 35-hour workweek, over a month of paid vacation, facilities that are non-toxic and empowering the workers to fix things and stop problems. Here the engines start down the production line and both the workers and the robots add parts, adjust tolerances and test the components. I found it very interesting that the engines come down the line mixed together. It isn’t 200 right-hand-drive V-6′s one day and 200 diesel V8′s the next. It is one of each of whatever is needed. They are currently expanding the facility because they also produce engines for some of our competitors and demand has grown.
At AMG, the facilities are just as impressive but the production of the engines is kind of opposite. The block is mounted to a cart and the single technician moves that cart from station to station adding the components and testing as he goes. After the engine is complete all of the V12 engines and a selection of the V8′s go to the test bench and are put through their paces. We saw a V12 race around the track virtually and it shook the room! At this location they also do customization for an elite clientele. We saw elongated G-wagons, an ML with a royal blue and yellow interior and a CL with more security features that an embassy!
The day we were scheduled to go to the Production Plant in Sindelfingen the plant closed for a meeting! (The meeting was to discuss reducing production by 35,000 units for the rest of the year.) We were able to go to the European Delivery Center in Sindelfingen instead and see where our clients would pick up their vehicle. In Germany it is popular to pick up your new vehicle from the factory rather than the local dealership!
I had not been to Germany before and was surprised by the beautiful countryside and vineyards. It reminded me of upstate New York in the fall. The trip was a wonderful mix of the Mercedes production and history I was looking forward to and a tour of Germany that I wasn’t expecting. Thank you to Mercedes-Benz Training and Education for arranging the trip and to Fred Schoeninger, our fantastic guide!