In the focus: A bestseller. The segment started with an angular off-roader, the GLK. A sleek SUV developed from this, the GLC. An unbelievable success model. 220 virtual guests from the supplier network and representatives from Mercedes-Benz took part in Mercedes-Benz GLC Supplier Forum 2020 at the end of October. The event was broadcast live from Studio 31 of the Global Training Center of Mercedes-Benz AG.
The bar is high
„The GLC is a cornerstone of the Mercedes-Benz Cars product portfolio. And with a view to the new edition, a lot has been planned,“ says Roland Wenger, responsible for model range management and industrialization in procurement and supplier quality when greeting the virtual guests. The focus is on innovations that are geared towards people and their customer needs. Clear goal: to win even more customers. “The decisive factor is successful cooperation with partners in the supply industry. That applies from the first conversation to the final assembly,“ emphasizes Roland Wenger.
Realigned strategy – a solid basis for the future
The automotive industry is facing major challenges. Gunnar Güthenke, Vice President Procurement & Supplier Quality Mercedes-Benz AG, shows these again: electrification, digitization, CO2 requirements, profitability and economic and trade police developments. It is essential now to take the right measures to cope with them. To this end, Mercedes-Benz Cars has realigned its strategy. This is supported by the guiding principle of sustainability and a highly motivated team.
The six pillars of the new Mercedes-Benz strategy
1. Think and act like a luxury brand
2. Focus on profitable growth
3. Expand customer base by growing sub-brands
4. Embrace customers and grow recurrent revenues
5. Lead in electric drive and car software
6. Lower cost base and improve industrial footprint
How this new Mercedes-Benz strategy translates into the strategy of procurement and supplier quality, Gunnar Güthenke explained to the guests on five core topics. Best cost and product performance, supplier quality, innovation and partnerships, a global and digital footprint and sustainable procurement.
„All five topics play a decisive role in meeting the requirement to jointly offer innovative, intelligent and energy-efficient products of top quality and the highest design standards for customers,” says Guethenke. Topics to be considered before starting a vehicle are Quality management along the entire supply chain and ensuring quality standards in N-tier management. In addition, with a view to industrialization, the focus must be placed on successful run@rate tests. The difficult framework conditions caused by Covid-19 should not be ignored. “We trust our suppliers to make appropriate preparations and countermeasures to cope with this challenge,” emphasizes Guethenke.
Always one step ahead of its direct competitors
When the GLC was launched, this was the headline of one of many press releases and this assessment by the press was reflected in our sales figures. “Of course it is both a requirement and an ambition that the next generation is always one step ahead. Everyone must do their part for this,“ says Wolf-Dieter Kurz, Head of Product Strategy. The basis for the current success of the GLC is definitely the sporty, dynamic exterior, the high-quality interior and a chassis that has set new standards. And, what are the features of the new one? One of the product highlights is a design that dares to take a step into the future. The interior, lighting, climate and comfort will also score points in the next generation of the bestseller.
Since its predecessor, the GLK, was launched in 2008, the medium-sized SUV segment has seen a strong increase in volume in a global comparision. The current GLC ist the most powerful model series from Mercedes-Benz AG. „The Chinese market plays an essential role in this. In China we will offer a China-specific variant. Manufactured locally in Beijing and many components are completely localized in China,” says Kurz. The GLC also uses the architecture and module strategy of the C-Class, which is based on the Mercedes-Benz Rear Architecture 2 (MRA2).
In the lead, the Bremen production plant
The world in view from the far north of Germany. Daily business for Michael Frieß, responsible for production and the Bremen plant. The Mercedes-Benz GLC is manufactured at three production sites and on two continents: Bremen, Sindelfingen and Beijing. As the lead plant, Bremen controls and coordinates worldwide planning, logistics and the important transfer of knowledge for the next generation of the Mercedes-Benz GLC. The challenge: Every part has to be in the right place at the right time, in the right quality, in order to be able to produce the GLC at the highest level and with consistent quality.
„In order to continue to achieve our goals in the best possible way, three issues are particularly crucial. First: perfect quality. Second: the highest level of error transparency. Third: Absolute adherence to deadlines. We achieve this through transparent, open and solution-oriented communication with our suppliers,“ says Frieß.
Just in sequence requires a high degree of flexibility and good preparation
“From a logistical point of view, three production sites, some with several production lines are a challenge, especially for just-in-sequence deliveries. Covid-19 does not make managing the long supply chains with various pandemic regulations any easier. A close exchange between the suppliers and us is necessary here in order to secure the supply chains,” says Robert Ivisic, responsible for logistics & supply chain management. The joint project preparation and open exchange on topics is important to Robert Ivisic, in order to make it a success. To this end, he and his team organize supplier days and supplier meetings at work level. “The discussions focus on detailed timelines, order processes and delivery conditions. Furthermore, they form an important platform for addressing open questions.”
The market launch of the GLC derivatives will be staggered at short intervals. In order to lead the project to success, an unconditional will to succeed and flexibility is required from all those involved. Roland Wenger sums it up in his closing: “Reliability on both sides is the key to success.”