A logistical master achievement.
What job opportunities does the Mercedes-Benz Group offer in the logistics unit? And what is it like to work at the Rastatt plant? We spoke about these and other questions with Christian Seith, a logistics expert working in the Mercedes- Benz Rastatt plant.
Mr. Seith, please introduce yourself briefly to the readers.
My name is Christian Seith. After graduating from high school, I decided to do a dual study degree in mechanical and production engineering at what was then the Berufsakademie in Mannheim and was offered a place for work-based learning at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt. I have since worked in a number of different posts at the plants in Rastatt and Mannheim. Between 2012 to 2014 I did an MBA in engineering management.
I am currently head of the 'Change Management Partnerships' team and my work involves managing product ramp-ups in the production network for compact models, ensuring parts availability in the pre-series phase, and coordinating these functions within various partnership projects.
Why did you choose Mercedes-Benz as your employer?
There were many different reasons for my career choice. Firstly, I had grown up with the company's products and had been fascinated by them from a very early age. The whole family has been driving Mercedes cars for as long as I can remember and we are still very loyal to the brand today. The fact that Mercedes-Benz supported my career choice by offering me a place for my dual study program was ideal, and when I was accepted on the course, I was absolutely delighted. I still feel a great sense of pride when I see our vehicles on the road and know that I am a part of it. A large company with a global presence, such as Mercedes-Benz, also offers many exciting roles and development opportunities – and that too was an important factor in my decision.
What was your previous experience at Mercedes-Benz – starting from your first day in the company until today?
I started my dual study program in 2004 and completed it in September 2007. As part of the practical training, I had the opportunity, along with my fellow students, to work in different departments at the Rastatt plant on three-month rotations and get involved in interesting projects. I particularly enjoyed the varied work environment in logistics and was looking to specifically work in this area once I had completed my degree.
Everything worked out as I had hoped and I started work as a production engineer looking after logistics in chassis assembly. Three years later, I assumed the role of assistant to the logistics manager at Rastatt, before taking on my first team leader role in 2013 at the Mannheim plant. Again, I stayed true to logistics and worked with my team on planning the internal and external processes for engine production.
After a very exciting period in Mannheim, I have now returned to compact cars and work on ramp-up management and change management, a completely new area for me. I was particularly drawn to the challenge of learning about an entirely different area of logistics.
Please tell us a little more about your tasks and your team.
It may initially sound as though my team performs a wide variety of tasks. However, all the work is related to the ramp-up of new products, new features and product improvements in our production network.
The first task involves the planning of production trials and ramp-up scenarios. We are not only looking at the Rastatt plant, but also constantly monitoring all the other sites where our compact vehicles are manufactured. Another part of the team plans the processes for change management. This covers all the process steps that are required to put parts into production that have been changed and optimized by Development.
We also ensure that parts are available in the phases leading up to series production, which is done in collaboration with our colleagues in Development, Procurement and Quality. This also includes the physical parts supply via our ramp-up warehouse.
Last but not least, we coordinate partnership projects in the compact segment. This means that we are the point of contact for production and logistics.
Please tell us a little more about the Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt. What are the characteristics of this location?
I believe that the Rastatt site combines two fantastic elements. Firstly, it is one of the newest Mercedes factories and is a manageable size. As a result, you know many of your contacts personally, which often makes it easy to work together. It also means that many things progress very quickly. And secondly, Rastatt has recently taken on the role of lead plant in the production network for the compact category. It is now not at all unusual for us to travel to other countries and share information with colleagues at sites around the world. Regular visits to other sites are extremely important for our networked operations. All in all, I can say that the team at the Rastatt plant is always ready to pass on its expertise to new colleagues and, at the same time, welcomes new ideas.