Want to Become a Mechanic? Learn Why Mercedes Swapped Assembly Line Robots for Humans

Automation has always been a big part of auto manufacturing. In 1913, Ford introduced the world’s first moving assembly line, streamlining the manufacturing process and revolutionizing the industry as we know it. As technology advanced, these systems became increasingly automated, with much of the work now being done by specially-designed robots.

That’s why it came as a surprise when Mercedes announced that it was replacing a number of the assembly robots at its Sindelfingen plant with humans, after the robots failed to keep up with the wide range of customizable options the automaker offered on its S-Class Sedans. For auto mechanic students, the announcement is yet another indication of the changing landscape of the industry today.

Read on to find out why customization is forcing automakers to rethink their manufacturing process, and why employing more human workers could actually make car production more efficient.

Mercedes’ Decision Explained for Students in Mechanic Courses

While most people would assume that using robots for assembly would increase efficiency, many automakers have experienced problems in recent years as they have expanded the customizable options available in their models. The Mercedes S-Class sedan, for instance, is available with number of different carbon fiber trims, tire valve caps, and even cup holders.

While robots are very good at performing the same function over and over again, the technology isn’t advanced enough yet to cope with this level of variety. The company hopes that bringing humans back into the assembly process will allow them more flexibility.


Assembly line robots couldn’t keep up with S-Class production
Assembly line robots couldn’t keep up with S-Class production


Why Human Assembly Could Mean Big Changes When You Become a Mechanic

Of course, Mercedes won’t be doing away with robots altogether. Instead, the automaker is experimenting with a process known as ‘robot farming,’ where human workers work alongside smaller more flexible robots rather than in isolation.

Students taking mechanic courses will be able to see an example of the work produced using this approach when the new E-Class goes on sale this month. The automaker replaced permanently installed robots with human workers and lightweight machines to align the car’s head-up display.

Mercedes believes that the new manufacturing process could reduce the time taken to produce a car to just 30 hours—50 per cent less than the 2005 standard of 61 hours. Other auto companies are taking similar steps, with Audi and BMW currently testing robots equipped with special sensors to help them work safely alongside humans.

Why Students in Car Repair Courses are Seeing More Customized Cars

Mercedes’ decision highlights the increased importance of customization in the market. Consumers are seeking a more personalized driving experience, and car repair course students will no doubt have noticed the increased range of options being offered as automakers strive to meet demand.

Mercedes plans to introduce as many as 30 new models by the end of the decade, with customizable options including everything from illuminating the Mercedes star to offering customers a range of different interior fragrances. And as they look to provide more choice, developing a more efficient manufacturing process will be crucial.

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