Berlin. Mercedes-Benz will build ultra-high-performance axial-flux electric motors at its Berlin site, as the world’s pre-eminent luxury car brand prepares to go all electric by 2030, where market conditions allow. With the transformation of the Berlin site, Mercedes-Benz will reach new digitalisation and electrification milestones on the way towards a sustainable and emissions-free future.
By insourcing further electric drive components, the Berlin plant is charting a new course for its future and expanding its portfolio of products. Mercedes-Benz announced the acquisition of YASA, UK-based manufacturer of ultra-high-performance electric motors in the summer of this year, securing access to unique axial-flux technology, deepening its vertical integration and value creation in development and production. The portfolio of the Berlin plant already includes assembly volumes of electric drive units and the so-called EE Compartment.
In addition, the build-up of the Mercedes-Benz Digital Factory Campus - a campus for the development, testing, and implementation of pioneering MO360 software applications – has reached an advanced stage. A series of state-of-the-art pilot lines will go into operation next year. Berlin will become the competence center for digitalisation in the global Mercedes-Benz production network and support the worldwide rollout for new releases and apps in the MO360 ecosystem. At the same time, the campus will become a MO360 training and qualification center with innovative approaches in the area of digital implementation. Mercedes-Benz is investing a low triple-digit million euros amount in the transformation of its Berlin plant within the next six years.
Jörg Burzer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz AG, Production and Supply Chain: "The transformation of the automotive industry is more evident at our Berlin site than at any other Mercedes-Benz plant. The transformation from a production site for purely conventional drive components to a competence center for digitalisation and production in the field of e-mobility is a significant step for us and our employees. We are offering groundbreaking new opportunities for this traditional location and underlining its role in our global production network - not least as a decisive driver of our digitalisation offensive. With the production of high-performance electric motors, the Berlin plant will become a key pillar of the sustainable Mercedes-Benz electrification strategy."
Sabine Kohleisen, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz AG, responsible for Human Resources and Labour Director: "The transformation towards an electric and digital future is both a great challenge and a great opportunity. We will only master it by working together as a powerful Mercedes-Benz team. The shift to electric mobility will change tasks and employment profiles. Our goal is to shape this change for the employees in a responsible, socially acceptable and future-oriented manner."
Berlin will become the hub for global Mercedes-Benz training and qualification activities. Future training programs for the entire production network will be developed and implemented in Berlin, using an innovative and flexible digital learning platform. Furthermore, the portfolio of qualification activities has been redefined; going forward, the qualifications will include for example IT specialist for digital networking and IT specialist for data and process analysis.
A new qualification program, designed to give production staff new opportunities, was tailored to create new digital employment profiles for Berlin. As part of a pilot project, production staff are being trained for new digital jobs, giving them opportunity to play an active part in shaping the transformation. A particularly good example of this is the new profile of Junior Software Developer for the Mercedes-Benz Digital Factory Campus.
"We are overwhelmed by the level of acceptance on the part of employees for the digital transformation of this Mercedes-Benz site Berlin. The huge interest in our digital qualification offerings demonstrates to us that we are on the right path. Employees are ready to take on a new challenge. A big thank you to the staff, and the works council, for embarking on this path with us," Kohleisen said.
The transformation of the Mercedes-Benz plant will advance through a process of mutual cooperation between employee representation and management. The mutual agreement struck between the works council and management includes both structural and personnel measures. The focus will be on retraining and requalification measures for employees at the site, while at the same time taking advantage of natural staff turnover including retirement and buyouts. The main priority is to implement these structural and personnel measures, which impact employment profiles, in a socially acceptable manner.
Michael Rahmel, Chairman of the Works Council Mercedes-Benz Plant Berlin: "Securing the sustainable future of our Mercedes-Benz site in Berlin has always been at the forefront of our minds. With the transformation of the site into a digital factory campus and competence centre for high-performance electric motors, we have taken a decisive step towards the future for our oldest production site. Together with the site manager, Clemenz Dobrawa, we have opened the door to the future. Thus, a successful transformation can begin with and for the employees."
The company and the works council want to sustainably secure the future of Berlin, the oldest location in the global Mercedes-Benz production network, through a clear focus on digitalisation and electrification.
MO360 - The Digital Ecosystem
The digitalisation of production is an important success factor for Mercedes-Benz. The digital MO360 ecosystem was launched last year. Large parts of the modular and expandable system are already in use at around 30 Mercedes-Benz plants worldwide. As a competence center for digitalisation, the Mercedes-Benz Digital Factory Campus will drive the development, testing, and validation of future software applications and concepts for MO360 from next year onwards in a real production environment. The aim is take the new developments tested in Berlin and to roll them out worldwide and to qualify the users in the plants.
The highlights of MO360 include:
- Increase in production efficiency through the use of MO360
- Different tools combined into one tool family with a unified user interface
- Digital Shopfloor Management to help organise production
- Digital Worker Assistance to support assembly activities
- Quality Live is all about product quality
The MO360 Data Platform provides the fundamental basis for workers to access and analyse all data in their field of responsibility, regardless of their IT skills. The MO360 Data Platform is the "digital twin of production." It makes a decisive contribution to the democratisation of data and, with the help of artificial intelligence and predictive tools, supports the qualification of employees in the context of the transformation.
Cooperation with Science and Industry
With its broad spectrum of MO360 software applications, the Mercedes-Benz Digital Factory Campus also aims to collaborate with partners from business and science; for example, with universities, research institutions and innovative industrial companies. In March, Mercedes-Benz and Siemens announced that they would be working together on the sustainable digitalisation and automation of the automotive industry with the support of the state of Berlin. As a leading provider in the field of automation, industrial software and intelligent infrastructure, Siemens is contributing its know-how and technologies to the partnership in order to develop highly flexible, efficient, and sustainable automotive production together with Mercedes-Benz.
Cedrik Neike, Member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG and CEO Digital Industries: "We have further expanded our successful cooperation with Mercedes-Benz in Berlin in recent months. Together, we are proving that state-of-the-art technologies can also make existing production facilities fit for the future. We are thus taking a major step towards sustainable and even more competitive automotive production. The future of mobility begins in the production hall. And technology from Siemens enables this transformation towards electromobility. This makes us proud."
Business and Politics Support Transformation in Solidarity
The state of Berlin supports the transformation of the Mercedes-Benz site in Berlin as well as the partnerships with Siemens and other companies and institutions that are part of the excellent science and start-up landscape in Berlin.
The Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller said: "For the production an innovation location Berlin the ongoing transformation of Mercedes-Benz in Marienfelde is good news. The development of the Berlin plant into a centre of competence and as a driver of digitalisation and production in the area of e-mobility strengthens the role of Berlin within the company and advances Berlin as a location for science and innovation. Beyond this I welcome the education and qualification activities, since this is an important step towards creating future-proof industrial jobs in Berlin. I wish the Berlin plant and its employees lots of success in this ambitious endeavour!"
Originally posted on Global Fleet Management