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Human Regains The Lead In Mercedes-Benz Production Line

Feb 28, 2016 05:45 AM EST

Mercedes-Benz, the German automobile manufacturer, has been compelled to bring back the flexibility and dexterity of human workers to its assembly line. The robots are unable to keep pace with the complexity of key customized options for the company's S-Class Saloon.

The 101-year-old Sindelfingen plant produces 400,000 vehicles a year from 1,500 tons of steel a day. The dizzying number of options, especially for the S-Class cars, demands adaptability and flexibility. In these two qualitative features, humans outperform robots, now a day, reports The Guardian.

Robots are unable to deal with the degree of individualization and number of variables. Mercedes is trying to save money and safeguarding its future through employing more people, reports Mashable quoting Markus Schaefer, head of production for the German automaker.

To make car and other goods accessible to masses, manufacturing methods are being changed with the age of individualization. Versatility takes the lead during the entire shift.

Robots are reliable in repeatedly performing predefined tasks while poor performer in adaption. Thus the demand for humans is increasing with broader offering of model, each with more and more features,Bloomberg sketches the demand scenario.

According to International Federation of Robotics (IFR), automotive industry is the largest user of industrial robots.  Around 100,000 units of robot have been shipped in 2014. Globally, around 1.5 million industrial robots have been engaged in operation during 2014. However, IFR predicts, 1.3 million more robots will add online during the next two years.

Customization has now become the key since competitors are vying with customer's money in the market. Accordingly, the rate of models, technology and options changing has changed with diversified offerings from car makers. Skilled human are capable of changing a production line during a weekend, whereas robots require a week to reprogram and realign.

Even Toyota, the world leader in industrial robotics has also replaced robots with humans to counter-intuitively increase efficiency and reduce waste. Maintaining the qualities of robotics while gaining an edge to become quicker in adopting changes appears as the key.

A smart phone can be conceived, developed and put on sale within 18 months. But a traditional car typically requires seven years to hit production. Since customization is the key, so mass production strategy in automobile industry isn't feasible now a day.

According to International Federation of Robotics (IFR), automotive industry is the largest user of industrial robots. But to cope up with the industry demand, automobile manufacturers like Mercedes are bringing back humans in place of robots. Intriguingly, Mercedes-Benz head of production considers the move as a cost cutting as well as future securing effort. 

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