The production eco-system MO360.

Interview with Jörg Burzer and Jan Brecht

The production eco-system MO360.

August 06, 2020 – Mercedes-Benz Cars Operations 360 (MO360) – the name of the new, digital production eco-system of Mercedes-Benz Cars. It makes worldwide vehicle production transparent, with maximum efficiency. The new digital ecosystem comprises a family of software applications which are seamlessly connected via shared interfaces and standardised user interfaces. These applications use real-time data to support the worldwide vehicle production of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

The MO360 digital eco-system is being used in full for the first time at the new Factory 56 in Sindelfingen, Germany. We talked about the new, digital eco-system MO360 with Jörg Burzer, the member of the Mercedes-Benz AG Board of Management responsible for Production and Supply Chain Management, and Jan Brecht, Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Mercedes-Benz.

Factory 56 is regarded as one of the world's most modern car production halls. Jörg Burzer, why is this so special for you as Head of Mercedes-Benz Production and Supply Chain Management? And what role does MO360 as a digital eco-system play in this?

Jörg Burzer: Factory 56 will redefine the way in which cars are produced. And MO360 does the same: it will set new standards with respect to digital networking in production. The new eco-system will be fully rolled-out for the first time in Factory 56 and will immediately prove itself in production of the new S-Class. Our goal for the new eco-system is this: to make production even more transparent, slim down our procedures and seamlessly network processes that were previously separate.

Jörg Burzer, member of the Mercedes-Benz AG Board of Management, responsible for Production and Supply Chain Management.
Jörg Burzer, member of the Mercedes-Benz AG Board of Management, responsible for Production and Supply Chain Management.

Jan Brecht, what does the MO360 eco-system do in technical terms?

Jan Brecht: MO360 integrates the information from the main production processes and IT systems of the more than 30 Mercedes-Benz passenger car plants worldwide and brings together important software applications. It delivers significantly optimised KPI-based production control, for example. It also makes individual, needs-based information and work instructions available to each employee in real time. Technologically, MO360 is based on the very latest IT technologies and working procedures. These include, for example, reusable APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), scalable cloud solutions and, above all, Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). As such, the MO360 teams use the innovations and dynamics of the global developer community as well as the resulting cost efficiency.

Jan Brecht, Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Mercedes-Benz.
Jan Brecht, Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Mercedes-Benz.

This probably means that merely commissioning the new system is innovative in itself?

Jan Brecht: Absolutely. For the development of MO360 we formed cross-functional teams of IT experts who work hand in hand with the Mercedes-Benz Operations specialists, in agile and iterative processes.

Jörg Burzer: There were no organisational boundaries, and all the teams used the continuous feedback from the production teams to optimise and further develop the digital tools – this was the deciding factor that produced benchmark results. We consider it most important to have colleagues from production itself in the project team, as nobody else is better able to identify the applications and functions that simplify their day-to-day production work most effectively.

SFMdigital allows fast access to production- and control-related Key Performance Indicators.
SFMdigital allows fast access to production- and control-related Key Performance Indicators.

What are the major components that individually make up MO360?

Jörg Burzer: The new, digital eco-system comprises a number of software applications. Two applications that are already fully integrated into MO360 are dedicated to quality assurance (QUALITY LIVE) and production management (Shopfloor Management digital, SFMdigital). These two applications have already been introduced in practically all Mercedes-Benz Cars plants around the world. Another element of MO360 is digital communication and support for production employees using the PAPERLESS FACTORY system. Printed lists and the vehicle configuration card are now things of the past, for example. This will set new standards in terms of efficient production.

Jan Brecht: As Jörg has already said, many elements of MO360 are already in use in our more than 30 car plants around the world. On the one hand, our Integra standard helps us, through which we can easily access the data of our production facilities. On the other hand, we have a very uniform IT landscape, even when compared to the competition, so that we can quickly get our MO360 rolled out worldwide.

And what do these three terms stand for? Let's start with the PAPERLESS FACTORY.

Jörg Burzer: The PAPERLESS FACTORY as a major component of MO360 gives every employee precisely the information needed for working on the Mercedes-Benz vehicle next on the line. All the reports from colleagues, for example about the quality checks already performed, are also in digital form. This way of working not only increases efficiency, but also sets standards for sustainable production. Just by implementing the PAPERLESS FACTORY, Factory 56 saves around ten tonnes of paper compared to a not fully digitised factory.

A real contribution to CO₂ reduction and conservation of resources. And what does Shopfloor Management digital mean?

Jan Brecht: In digital Shopfloor Management (SFMdigital), all production data comes together fully automatically. Using SFMdigital, those responsible can see the live status of production at any time and have access to key production and management-related figures based on real-time data. So our managers are able to respond rapidly and transparently to current production activities.

So MO360 simplifies decision-making?

Jörg Burzer: Yes, precisely. With SFMdigital within MO360, we are able to manage our vehicle production efficiently and sustainably and keep it at the highest possible level with perfect quality. We have fast access to production and control-related KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). These include, for example, use of personnel, the "first time capability rate" (all the vehicles not requiring rectification work) or the production targets per shift.

And which role does QUALITY LIVE play within MO360?

Jan Brecht: With the QUALITY LIVE quality management system, all the personnel involved in production have press-button access to the live status of each individual vehicle at all times. To make it possible to react to any non-conformities immediately and before the end of the production line, QUALITY-LIVE is connected to all production data. As a subsystem of MO360, QUALITY LIVE also supports the structured problem-solving process as well as continuous process optimisation. It does this, when necessary, by making suggestions for efficient rework using AI methods. With MO360, this AI-based knowledge is made available to all of our colleagues in the MBC plants around the world.

In this way we optimise quality control loops with the aim of ensuring that the vehicles leave the line faster, without any reworking whatsoever.

Jörg Burzer: Precisely. Which shortens the production time per vehicle. To put it into figures, we will improve our production efficiency by 15 percent by 2022.

Right, we now have a good general overview of MO360. As the Board of Management member for Production, how would you summarise the system in a few words?

Jörg Burzer: All in all, MO360 reflects the Mercedes-Benz Cars Operations aspiration to manufacture excellent products based on outstanding production methods. The ecosystem is based on all Mercedes-Benz Cars Operations strategic pillars: driving digitalisation forward, using resources sustainably, delivering the potential to use and expand motivated employees, enjoying maximum flexibility in the global production network as well as outstanding processes and maximum operating safety.

And for you as Head of IT – where does the success factor in MO360 lie for you?

Jan Brecht: For me it lies in the cross-functional teams of production and IT experts who develop the ecosystem by agile and iterative collaboration. The decisive factor here is that the boundaries between departments, units and Board of Management areas are of no importance any more. Each team makes systematic use of constant feedback from production in order to optimise and further develop the digital IT tools. The teams continuously improve the software in short-cycle sprints with the aim of providing MO360 users with lasting perceptible benefits.

Jörg Burzer: Absolutely right, Jan. This is why we will continue to roll out MO360 in more than 30 car plants around the world this year and next year.

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Intelligently networked human beings, machines and industrial processes.