SUNConferences, Southern African Institute of Industrial Engineering 2013

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Operating Improvements at a Major Automotive Manufacturer
Mthobisi Dlamini

Last modified: 2013-06-29

Abstract


Due to the market, the capacity of facilities and workforce at Mercedes Benz Commercial Vehicles (MBCV) assembly was higher than the market demand. Poor scheduling couldn’t accommodate demand variability.  MBCV couldn’t continue with traditional mass production system which is based on dedicated assembly lines nor high inventory levels. Merging Fuso and Freightliner assembly lines was considered as an enabler for mass customization and therefore replaced the traditional mass production systems at MBCV.

The purpose of this project was to attempt to make Fuso and Freightliner assembly line more flexible in order to respond to varying customer demand. The project provided a deeper insight into the various means through which product variety affects productivity, and provided a number of implications for future improvements initiatives.

The difference between Fuso trucks & Freightliner trucks assembly time was calculated to be about 50 per cent, but it has been seen from the study findings that a difference of 50 per cent can be handled provided that all basic principles to development efficient MMALB are correctly applied.

Station variability had to be overcome, major sources of which were the differences between product design, architecture and number of common part. Assembly times varied between models at different stations as well as between models at the same station which created uneven flow.

A growing number of product variants resulted in more part numbers delivered to the assembly line. An increase in part numbers demanded an increase in line side storage space.  An increase in line storage space and parts numbers created longer operator walking times and searching time. Generating the optimal production schedule for a mixed model assembly line, to balance the workload at all the production stages, become difficult task due to a variety of practical constraints.

 




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