Today, we laid the foundation stone for a project that I would call extraordinary in the best sense of the word: for our Factory 56. And it will not be just any random production facility.
This smart factory here in Sindelfingen, Germany, will be setting new benchmarks around the globe – and it will be a model of how the future of automobile production will look like. It will redefine the way cars are built. The inventor of the car is re-inventing production.
Digital, flexible, green
At the time of its inauguration Factory 56 will be one of the world’s most modern production facilities. We will be producing the most valuable and innovative cars of the present here: the new S-Class, electric cars, as well as automated vehicles. It is no secret that we already have specific plans for fully automated vehicles at Mercedes-Benz today.
And it goes without saying that this also involves the question of how such robotaxis will be produced in series one day. This might happen here at Factory 56 in the not all too distant future.
Autonomous driving will fundamentally change mobility and Factory 56 will equally represent the dawn of a new era for automotive production. This is because it merges three pioneering properties: it is more digital than any other production site has ever been, the site is as flexible as no other factory, and it brings green production to life. We have merged all this into the motto of Factory 56: digital, flexible, green.
Smart solutions make everyday tasks easier
Factory 56 will be a 100 percent smart factory. And we already laid the foundation stone for that, too, as we fully planned Factory 56 in the digital space – obviously the building as such, but also machines and robots, goods transport systems, and new types of operative processes. In short, we are digitalizing the entire value chain at Factory 56.
However, digitalization does not mean Factory 56 will be a facility void of human life. On the contrary, people also are at the center of the digital factory of the future. Bear in mind that also in the future of operations nothing will be as flexible as humans themselves.
Smart solutions make our colleagues’ lives easier. For this reason, assembly workstations within Factory 56 have been fitted with digital equipment. In this process, virtual and real world go hand in hand: modern communication gadgets such as smartwatches and wearables support workers in every step, augmented reality applications make manual everyday tasks easier and paperless systems succeed paper-based processes. This will make us more efficient and most of all more flexible.
Flexibility is the key
Flexibility is a key factor to us. This is because we are dealing with a plenty unknowns day by day: We cannot exactly forecast which model series, variants, and drivetrains will be in demand on which markets at which time. Consequently, we at Mercedes-Benz Cars Operations (MO) have made our production network more flexible over the past years.
In future each individual factory within this network will also be highly flexible itself. Factory 56 will act as a blueprint. Blue is also very fitting because at Mercedes-Benz blue represents electromobility. And at Factory 56 we will be producing electric vehicles on the same production line as vehicles with combustion engines and hybrids. We will also demonstrate the same levels of flexibility in terms of design: sedans, coupés, and convertibles – all variants will roll of the same production line.
Thinking about tomorrow – and beyond
Factory 56 will also be representing another color: green. To us, sustainability is not just a buzzword. Factory 56 will be green a production facility and I can provide not one, but five elements to prove it.
- Firstly, the factory of the future will produce almost no waste in operation
- Secondly, we will be consuming drastically less water than in a conventional assembly facility
- Thirdly, anyone working within Factory 56 will see the sun: The facility will feature innovative blue sky architecture that permits natural light to flood the production site. This creates a pleasant atmosphere – and saves energy
- The sun brings me to point number four: the photovoltaic system on the roof of the facility will generate an annual yield of around 5,000 megawatt hours
- And finally, reason number five: With Factory 56, we are taking a giant leap on our way to emission-free production. We are already well underway, but in this factory, we will reduce carbon dioxide emission per vehicle by another 75 percent.
You see: Thanks to Factory 56 we are launching into good new times. And there are many good reasons to look forward to them. One is that we are not only thinking about how the factory of tomorrow will look like – we are also thinking about what mobility will mean in decades from now. Later this week, on 22nd and 23rd February, we will present our ideas for that at the ARENA2036.
This is Europe’s largest research platform for mobility and production, and it is located at the campus of Stuttgart University. Daimler has been a strong partner of ARENA2036 since its foundation back in 2013. And we are convinced: If science and industry pool their strengths in an innovative way, we will create innovative auto-mobile visions for 2036 – the year the car celebrates its 150th birthday.