Outstanding process reliability at all stages for top-class products
Quality assurance is the recurring theme for production in Aksaray
Ultra-modern production processes to western European standards ensure the highest quality in all production stages
Customer care and service at the highest level
Owners of a new truck or Unimog expect economy above all else, while drivers expect maximum operating convenience and comfort, safety and reliability. The new-generation Mercedes-Benz Axor and Atego, as well as the Unimog, offer future-oriented solutions to meet all these requirements, while outstanding production quality and excellent customer care are a particular strength of the Aksaray plant.
As the largest truck assembly plant in , Aksaray currently employs a workforce of 1350 which ensures the legendary qualities of Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles on a daily basis. Highly qualified specialists use the very latest technology to produce tailor-made vehicles for customers. The Aksaray product range includes a wide portfolio of vehicles between 12 and 41 tonnes gross vehicle weight, different axle ratios and frame variants, and a large number of engine variants. More than 95 model variants ensure that customers receive a vehicle that precisely meets their wishes.
The market success of this product range is impressive, and Mercedes-Benz trucks have maintained their position as the number one in with a stable market share of around 24 percent. The mainstays are the new models in the Axor and Atego series. In too, the Axor is now being given the new-generation Mercedes Power-Shift automated transmission. With around 6000 vehicles being sold for export this year, trucks made in Aksaray are also successful internationally. More than 90,000 vehicles have been produced since the Aksaray plant commenced operations.
Production quality right from the start
It takes three to four days before a completed Mercedes-Benz truck leaves the assembly line under its own power. The starting point of production is frame assembly, where side and cross-members delivered to the plant are joined together to form the frame as the "backbone" of a truck. The springs and axles are then installed before the frame goes to the paintshop.
Take the frame of the Axor, for example, a truck with the ideal weight. Owing to its weight and material-optimised construction, this semitrailer tractor with air suspension has a lower vehicle weight and therefore carries a higher payload on the roads. To achieve this aim, the frame was completely redesigned using powerful CAD systems and complex vibration and load simulations. It has not a single pound of excess weight, but is extremely robust. Its frame provides the best possible basis for bodies of all kinds.
"Karagöz" and "Hacivat", the indefatigable heroes in the bodyshop
The cab is produced in a parallel operation, and here too Mercedes-Benz has introduced innovative technology: the use of robots when producing the roof makes it possible to create a wide range of different cabs to the very highest quality standards. Most of the sheet steel required for this comes from specialist suppliers. Smaller pressed or stamped parts are also produced by the Aksaray plant itself.
Before the cab takes on its final form, the main assemblies consisting of the front end, underbody, rear wall and roof are welded together in four individual centres, for example by "Karagöz" and "Hacivat" – two welding robots the workers have named after well-known theatrical comedy figures. These two indefatigable heroes carry out detailed operations with millimetric precision.
Optimal corrosion protection and an individual paint finish
After assembly, the metal areas of the cab are given lasting protection against stone chippings, weathering and corrosion. Great attention is paid to this, for Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles must not only withstand all environmental influences, but also protect the environment. The environmentally compatible painting processes at the Aksaray plant are a small but important contribution to this, and have been certificated accordingly.
The cab is first cleaned, degreased and primed with zinc phosphate to ensure best possible adhesion of the surface coats. Three paint coats are then applied: first a cataphoretic dip primer and PVC underbody protection for lasting resistance to corrosion, then the second paint coat, a filler which helps to reduce solvent emissions. The final coat is the topcoat in one of the 250 or so available colours, as well as cavity preservation. These are the final stages in a sophisticated process which ensures seamless protection and a lasting sheen.
Intelligently designed interior
More comfort for the driver primarily means an intelligently and ergonomically designed workplace in which every centimetre is put to the best possible use. The interior of the cab is installed after painting. Experienced and well-trained personnel install a wide variety of parts, from the windscreen to sun visors and from the new bunk to the model plate.
Final assembly - the Mercedes-Benz is given its face
The appropriate sub-assemblies are delivered to the relevant assembly stations with perfect timing. Larger outsourced parts are delivered directly to the assembly line on the "just-in-time" principle. As the different truck components arrive, they are brought together on two final assembly lines. The pre-assembled engine/ transmission unit is installed in the frame with its axles and springs, then the cab is mounted in what the workers refer to as the "marriage". This is the moment when the truck takes on its final appearance. Now the wheels are installed, up to twelve of them in the case of a heavy truck. Now completely roadworthy, the finished truck leaves the assembly line under its own power.
Flexible production control and sophisticated logistics
A look around the production shop shows that practically no two vehicles are alike. A succession of cabs in a wide variety of colours comes from the paintshop, the cab of a light Atego follows an Axor cab for installation of the interior features, and in final assembly a short-wheelbase two-axle truck might well follow a four-axle vehicle with all-wheel drive.
In view of this variety of model variants, keeping the production process flowing smoothly is a major challenge for the specialists in the production control department. The production planning "countdown" begins roughly six weeks before final completion of a truck. The assembly sequence is defined to ensure the best possible capacity utilisation during production. Major assemblies arrive in Aksaray between one and three days before they are installed - a logistical masterpiece made possible by computer control and remote data transfer. The engines come from , transmissions from Gaggenau and axles from , some of them also from Gaggenau. They are usually on the road by truck for seven days before arriving in Aksaray. To ensure problem-free sequencing on the line, there are computer terminals at several points in the plant which control the assembly orders for the individual production areas. The employees in the control centre of the assembly shop check that all the parts and components required for interior installation and final assembly are available. With computer assistance they decide when and in what sequence the vehicles will go through final assembly.
Quality assurance as the be-all and end-all of top-class products
Mercedes-Benz: a name that stands for the highest quality and reliability all over the world. This is a reputation that today’s quality management needs to reconfirm and sustain every working day. Like all Mercedes-Benz vehicles, the products made in the Aksaray plant are required to meet the high in-house quality standards. Only then is it possible to maintain the leading position, and achieving this is the result of teamwork between all the personnel in the plant. As well as coordination with the comprehensive and meticulously planned quality management system, which monitors the entire plant and also includes the external suppliers. A simple but effective philosophy lies behind all this: every individual is responsible for the quality of his work.
Everything possible is already done in the upstream areas to ensure that faults do not occur in the first place, one of the methods used by the designers and planners being risk assessment by FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis). There is nothing that cannot be improved upon, however. Accordingly Mercedes-Benz Türk A.Ş. constantly checks how good its vehicles are by means of quality sensors such as section product audits, final vehicle inspection and product/ product delivery audits. To this end, various section product audits (similar to random sampling) are integrated into the entire production process to reflect the quality standard in all areas. And this is not all: every day a completed vehicle is subjected to the stringent standards of a product audit before being delivered to the customer. The results of the regular product delivery audit comparisons conducted on an international basis confirm that Aksaray production meets the rigorous quality standards of DaimlerChrysler.
Modern customer centre ‑ information at first hand
The modern customer centre opened its doors in 2005. Up to 60 vehicles are delivered to customers here each day. The centre also offers visitors a wide range of services, from a guided tour of the production facilities to theoretical and practical training courses. More than 6000 customers make use of the comprehensive training programme every year. Courses are held in up-to-date classrooms, where experienced and knowledgeable instructors explain the safety, environmental, economic and technical aspects of operating the vehicles. These information and training events are specifically aimed at the requirements of truck customers and their drivers.