BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (June 10, 2009) — Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Inc. is using vehicle production downtime at its Alabama assembly plant to train suppliers in the Mercedes production system, outgoing CEO Bill Taylor told the Automotive News Manufacturing Conference on Tuesday.
Since February, Mercedes has trained plant managers from about 35 parts suppliers in the auto maker's manufacturing processes, said Taylor, 59, who is retiring at the end of June.
The supplier executives were brought in every Friday while Mercedes had its plant down, he said. They were trained by about a dozen, mostly blue collar employees who are experts in the Mercedes processes.
Additional executives from the supplier plants are being trained daily during a monthlong shutdown at Mercedes in Vance, Ala., that ends the third week of June, Taylor said.
Mercedes is using the opportunity to help suppliers save on manufacturing costs, boost quality and get them operating similarly to Mercedes to improve communications, he said. During full production, those educational efforts often are difficult because both sides are busy completing work.
Mercedes makes the GL-class SUV and M- and R-class crossovers at its plant. Taylor will leave Mercedes to join the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.