Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) is using a planned summer shutdown this week at its M-Class plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala., as an opportunity to improve the facility's production. The installation of more automation, logistics bays, and assist devices is expected to help boost production by more than 20% at an investment of $40 million. The plant currently is running at its maximum capacity of 300 vehicles per day on two shifts.
More specifically, MBUSI is adding 20 robots, as well as fixed position guns and robot-applied fusion/mig welds, in the body shop. A new 175-foot-long underground tunnel will be used by assembly to move frames from outside of the building to the chassis line. The assembly shop also will receive 23 logistics bays, used to organize parts before they are taken to the production line, while the body shop adds 10 bays.