February 29, 2016
Mercedes will enlist an unknown number of people at its Sindelfingen plant in Germany to handle customization.
It seems that anything you can do, robots can do better. But Mercedes-Benz disagrees.
The luxury car manufacturer is reportedly replacing androids with human workers on its assembly lines. As reported by Bloomberg, Mercedes will enlist an unknown number of people at its Sindelfingen plant in Germany-a 101-year-old site that anchors the Daimler AG unit's global manufacturing network.
The streamlined factory produces more than 400,000 vehicles each year, including the GT sports car and S-Class Maybach sedan. But there is still one thing its machines cannot do: customize your new car.
"Robots can't deal with the degree of individualization and the many variants that we have today," Mercedes-Benz's head of production, Markus Schaefer, told Bloomberg. "We're saving money and safeguarding our future by employing more people."
In an age of singularity and uniqueness-not to mention add-ons like heated and cooled cup holders and four types of tire valve caps—no two cars are the same.
"The variety is too much to take on for the machines," Schaefer said. "They can't work with all the different options and keep pace with changes."
There is no word on how many people the company plans to hire, or when the human regime will step in. Mercedes-Benz did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.
One thing, however, is clear: This change will profoundly speed up overall production, which previously halted for weeks every time the corporation had to reprogram robots and assembly patterns.
Mercedes isn't disassembling its entire android army, though. According to Bloomberg, the machines will "increasingly be smaller and more flexible," operating with humans rather than behind safety fences—a procedure the company calls "robot farming."
Within two years, about 1.3 million industrial robots are expected to be put to work in factories around the world, according to the International Federation of Robotics.
"Robotic workers will in the future be found working hand-in-hand with human staff, helping to replace traditional, rigid production processes with flexible structures," IFR President Joe Gemma said in a statement.
In fact, high-end car makers BMW and Audi are already testing sensor-equipped devices for use alongside human laborers, Bloomberg reported.
Copyright 2016 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved
This article’s original title was “Mercedes Plant Replacing Robots With Humans”
Quality News Today is an ASQ member benefit offering quality related news
from around the world every business day.