Mercedes' big-time lineup
Sunday, May 01, 2005
VANCE -- Mercedes-Benz's $600 million project to build a second
assembly line at its Alabama plant was a massive undertaking.
Consider what went into the line being unveiled Tuesday for auto
journalists from around the world:
Enough steel was used to build two copies of the 984-foot Eiffel Tower,
with enough left over to build a half-size version.
Enough concrete was poured to pave 11 miles of four-lane interstate.
Workers moved enough dirt from the site to fill the new
1.9-million-square-foot plant building.
Fifty football fields would fit under the roof of the plant.
Mercedes says 120 contractors with 2,500 workers were on the site at
the peak of construction. The project consumed 5.2 million manhours.
The project also made Mercedes more high-tech. The factory complex now
has about 700 robots, up from 70 on the original line. Supervisors are
using a new hand-held computer system to keep tabs on production and
Mercedes now has 3,800 workers and is on the way to 4,000 by year's
end. The new assembly line is producing more than 100 vehicles per day
on one shift, with a second shift planned. The new line has already
turned out more than 10,000 vehicles.
At full tilt, Mercedes' two assembly lines will produce 160,000 M-Class
sport utilities and R-Class crossovers each year.
Expectations are that Mercedes will add a third model - a larger SUV to
be dubbed the G-Class - to the lines in Vance.
Michael Tomberlin --