At the Mercedes-Benz Rastatt plant the series production of the second latest-generation compact model has begun in the form of the B-Class. Mercedes-Benz is continuing the tourer’s success story. The B-Class is once again setting standards with regard to its look and functional equipment. The ramp-up of the A-Class compact Sedan took place in Rastatt several months ago, followed in short succession by the plants in Kecskemét (Hungary), Uusikaupunki (Finland) and the A-Class Sedan in September in Aguascalientes (Mexico).
“The B-Class ramp-up marks a further milestone in the ramp-up cascade of our next compact car generation. Our lead plant Rastatt is exclusively producing the tourer for the global market. Innovative Industry 4.0 technologies are being used here”, says Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain.
The family of compact cars currently comprises seven models: A-Class (Compact Sedan, Sedan), B-Class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake, GLA and the A-Class L Sedanwith a long wheelbase, which will in future be produced in Beijing specifically for the Chinese market.
Long-term strengthening of the location
“Our entire team is proud of the fact that Rastatt will remain inextricably linked with the B-Class in future, too. A start of production is always a highlight for a plant. For this one particularly, we have prepared ourselves intensively. Among other things, a hall was completely rebuilt. Thanks to our experience with the A-Class we are optimally acquainted with the production architecture and can use synergies”, said Thomas Geier, Site Manager of the Mercedes-Benz Rastatt plant.
“Today’s start of production is a strong signal for the future of the site Rastatt. The exclusive production of the new B-Class will secure employment at our plant and in the entire region for years to come. This success is mainly down to the commitment of our employees”, commented Michael Lehmann, Deputy Chairman of the Works Council at the Mercedes-Benz Rastatt plant.
Fit for the digital revolution: Industry 4.0 at the Rastatt plant
The plant in Rastatt is also the central training site for employees and production for all compact car plants. Key roles in professional training are played by modern, digital production technologies and Industry 4.0 solutions.
- For example, driverless transport systems (DTS) are used in Rastatt. They deliver baskets to the line containing the component parts precisely matched to the individual vehicle.
- The concept of a “paperless factory”, which replaces the documentation of the individual work steps on paper, will be successively integrated by means of state-of-the-art data transmission and new hardware solutions. Additional mobile devices such as tablets, smartphones and smart watches support employees in the individual work steps.
- The new B-Class has an optional head-up display (HUD). Important information is projected directly into the driver’s field of vision on the windscreen. To ensure that the display is within the driver’s field of vision, it must be adjusted after installation. With the new B-Class a new and particularly simple process is used for this purpose. This can be done at selected points on the assembly line. An employee sits behind the steering wheel with a tablet computer equipped with two additional cameras. One camera measures the tablet to a specific point in the instrument panel. Arrows on the screen tell the employee where to place the tablet. When this is achieved, a recording is automatically triggered via the second camera and the image is analysed. The derived setting parameters are sent via Wi-Fi via OBD interface to the control unit of the HUD and adjusted accordingly. The second camera then checks the position and shape of the image.
- Q-LIVE unites, optimizes and digitizes quality control systems in production. Independent from any devices and without additional effort, it is a smart and intuitive user surface with interfaces to existing systems.
The new B-Class – prepared for partially-automated driving for the first time
The design is even sportier, the functions even more sophisticated: the new Mercedes-Benz B-Class is raising the bar in the compact car segment to a new level yet again. It looks more dynamic than its predecessor and is more agile on the road while offering greater comfort and safety. For instance, it is fitted with state-of-the-art Active Safety driving assistance systems otherwise reserved for the luxury segment. For the first time, the B-Class is able to drive semi-autonomously in certain situations. To this end improved camera and radar systems with a range of up to 500 m were installed. The Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC can conveniently and foresightedly adjust the speed for example for bends, junctions and roundabouts. Also on board are Active Emergency Stop Assist and intuitively understandable Active Lane Change Assist. The extended and standard Active Brake Assist can also help mitigate the severity of rear-end collisions with slower-moving, stopping or stationary vehicles ahead – and now even with crossing pedestrians or cyclists – or prevent them altogether.
As the third vehicle in the compact car family, after the A-Class Compact Sedan and Sedan, the model also has the multimedia system MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) on board. It sets new benchmarks when it comes to connectivity by individually adapting to the user and continuously learning. The new B-Class can be ordered from 3 December 2018, with delivery due to begin in February 2019.
About the Mercedes-Benz Rastatt plant
The Mercedes-Benz Rastatt plant in Germany is the biggest employer in the region, with a workforce of around 6,500 employees. Within the global Mercedes-Benz production network, the Rastatt plant is the lead plant for the production of compact cars worldwide. The A- and B-Class as well as the compact SUV GLA are manufactured at the location. In 2017, more than 330,000 vehicles rolled off its production lines. The production compound of the current compact car generation further includes the plant in Kecskemét, Hungary (production: B-Class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake), the Chinese production location BBAC (Beijing-Benz Automotive Co. Ltd – joint venture between Daimler AG and BAIC Motor; production: GLA) and the Finnish contract manufacturer Valmet Automotive (production: A-Class). In 2018, the COMPAS production plant joint venture (production: A-Class Sedan) in Mexico and the plant in Hambach, France were added. In Rastatt and Hambach, compact Mercedes-Benz electric vehicles of the EQ product and technology brand will roll off the line in the future.