How Mercedes-Benz turned research into reality
By Mustafa Bayülgen | Supply Chain Quarterly| Quarter 2 2012 issue
By adopting proven practices from the supply chain literature, a Mercedes-Benz bus factory in Turkey avoided “reinventing the supply chain wheel” while making big gains in production and efficiency.
As the year 2008 came to a close, the global economy was struggling. Even so, we at the Mercedes-Benz bus plant where I work in Hosdere, near Istanbul, Turkey, were determined that we would not simply weather the economic downturn but would also increase production capacity by 30 percent. We knew it would be a huge challenge because of economic conditions and the increasingly ...view middle of the document...
EBSCP allows supply chain managers to avoid the kind of “crash tests” companies often undergo when implementing new initiatives in complex, intertwined supply chains. Rather than innovate without guidance, they can take advantage of widely available information. For example, they can learn from journal articles and books published by supply chain researchers around the world who are rigorously working to establish principles and find solutions for problems. They can also learn from practitioners who share their experiences through case studies in journals and business publications, as well as through other means, such as professional associations and professional networking sites on the Internet.
In short, with so many complex challenges facing supply chain practitioners today, it makes sense to learn from and take advantage of already published, tested information and solutions to problems. By doing so, companies will strengthen their supply chains, and that will eventually lead to greater profitability and an improved quality of life around the world as products and services arrive where and when needed.
The logistics team begins its work
Mercedes-Benz Türk A.Ş. was founded in 1967 under the name Otomarsan A.Ş. in Istanbul, Turkey, by Daimler-Benz AG and its Turkish partners, Mengerler T. A.Ş. and Has Otomotiv A.Ş. The company’s initial production in Hosdere was 0.6 buses per day. By 1970, it was already exporting buses, mostly to the Middle East and North Africa. In 1986, the company added a truck production plant to its portfolio, in Aksaray, Turkey, and changed its name to Mercedes-Benz Türk A.Ş. in 1990.
Over the years, MBT, now a subsidiary of Daimler AG, evolved into a manufacturer of complete buses and trucks. An increase in export activities led MBT in 1995 to add a second bus plant in Hosdere and to convert the first plant to manufacture bus chassis and bodies for the new facility. A few years later, the new plant was expanded to include chassis and body operations, and the original plant was shut down. Today the Hosdere factory produces four basic bus models: Travego, Tourismo, Intouro, and Conecto. It has a production capacity of 14 buses per day, and it exports vehicles to Europe, Asia, and Africa. MBT also markets and sells Mercedes-Benz automobiles and light commercial vehicles in Turkey.
In 2008, in order to boost efficiency and to get the bus plant ready for a potential capacity increase, project “Hosdere 2010″ was launched. The first thing the management decided to do was to bring highly qualified and talented individuals together to form a logistics project team. (For more about the human resources considerations involved in EBSCP, see the sidebar “Invest in talent to make EBSCP a success.”)
The logistics team found that the plant was facing such problems as material shortages, excessive inventory, and high transportation costs. Previous attempts to solve them had not been entirely successful, and sometimes the...