The East London-based Daimler Truck and Bus Southern Africa (DTBSA) plant has marked a milestone in collaboration with its ‘mother’ plant in Wörth, Germany.
On 29 April, the 750 000th truck kit from the CKD Centre (Completely Knocked Down) at the Wörth plant was packed in a 40-foot sea container for its journey to South Africa. It was shipped to Port Elizabeth and transported to East London where the kit was assembled at the local plant into the complete truck – a white Actros 2652 LS 6×4 – which came off the production line this month ready for delivery to its new owner, Beefmaster.
For more than 50 years, the CKD Centre in Wörth has stood for the successful implementation of its original concept of “shipping quality”. Since 1966, the centre has sent individual truck components produced at the site to various international assembly plants. The kits are then assembled at the foreign locations in accordance with Mercedes-Benz’ standards. The truck kits, which have been delivered to a total of 60 countries since the founding of the CKD Centre, can consist of up to 2 500 individual components.
To keep operations, processes and handling as efficient as possible, sets of four identical trucks are usually packed together which, in most cases, also fit into four overseas containers. Such a four-packed set consists of a total of 48 packages and weighs between 50 and 70 tons, depending on the design.
The specialists in Wörth regularly support colleagues at foreign plants with, for example, production start-ups as part of special training programmes. Thus, as the CKD Centre of competence, Wörth plays a key role in the international Mercedes-Benz Trucks production network.
Maretha Gerber, Head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks at DTBSA, says: “Thanks to its high degree of flexibility, the CKD Centre is always able to meet customers’ requirements at short notice in markets around the world such as South Africa, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, in accordance with customers’ specific requirements.
“The local assembly in these markets allows for the demands of truck customers, which vary significantly by region, to be rapidly met. Customers also benefit economically from local production due to the significantly lower import duties at many places.”
About the Wörth plant
The largest truck assembly plant of Mercedes-Benz Trucks was founded in Wörth am Rhein in 1963 and today, up to 470 trucks – customised according to customer requirements – leave Wörth every day. The facility is the centre of competence for the global Mercedes-Benz Trucks production network. With about 10 300 employees, the Mercedes-Benz Wörth Plant is the second-largest employer in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
About the East London plant
The first truck was assembled at the then Car Distributors Assembly (CDA) in East London in 1962. CDA opened its doors in 1948 and was contracted in 1958 by Daimler-Benz to assemble Mercedes-Benz products. Since then, Daimler Trucks and Buses Southern Africa has assembled Mercedes-Benz trucks, Mercedes-Benz buses, the Unimog, FUSO trucks and Freightliner trucks.
At present the commercial vehicle manufacturing plant has 300 employees and has invested over R157-million in skills training; R18,1-million in enterprise development and R42,6-million in supplier development. Also, R10,04-million has been invested in the local communities through the plant’s corporate social investment programs.
Gladstone Mtyoko, head of Manufacturing Daimler Trucks & Buses Southern Africa, says: “As the assembly team, we have clear and stringent processes that we never deviate from. This has meant that our plant is rated as one of the best in the world. It is fitting for us to celebrate this milestone together with our ‘mother’ plant at Wörth as it reinforces our legacy of reliability, safety and outstanding workmanship.”
FleetWatch has visited the Wörth plant in Germany and the scale of the operation is truly mind-boggling. I also recall being incredibly excited on seeing a CKD kit with its destination label being ‘South Africa’.
While local customers see the final product – such as the Actros depicted in the accompanying photograph – few people realize what goes into getting that final product to the market. From the start in Wörth to the finish in South Africa, the whole operation is complex, sophisticated and top-class professional. It’s actually awesome and the fact that South Africa is part of this process – and was the recipient of the 750 000th CKD kit – makes one feel pretty privileged and proud.
Well done and big congratulations to all at both the Wörth plant and the East London plant on this milestone achievement.