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The key to MAN’s transformation

The combined production of conventional and electric trucks demands a new factory paint concept. The first shift is heading into the future in Munich.

22 August 2022 saw the beginning of a new era at the main MAN Truck & Bus factory in Munich: the new paint concept for future truck production (known as NLK) was introduced at the start of the shift. It also marked the end of an era. Because the introduction of the NLK means that MAN will no longer be painting its own chassis, the chassis paint shop in Munich’s factory hall F1 will be ceasing operations after 20 years. Or to put in another way, it has already been completely turned off over three production-free weeks.

There was no way around the extensive alterations to the factory because the new paint concept is an essential requirement for the next stage of the NewMAN strategy and the key to the further transformation of the company. The reason for this is that the future of goods vehicles is predominantly electric – and new products such as E-trucks bring with them new demands on production.

During a tour by CEO Alexander Vlaskamp at the beginning of September, production director Michael Kobriger and the Munich team around plant manager Thorsten Campehl had the opportunity to present the New Painting Concept on site. "The New Painting Concept is an important milestone in the realignment of our plant," says Campehl. "The introduction not only brings sustainable flexibility and future viability to production, but is also an important step in the implementation of e-truck production and on the way to a CO2-neutral factory."

The New Painting Concept not only brings sustainable flexibility and future viability to production, but is an important step in the implementation of e-truck production and on the way to a CO2-neutral factory.

Thorsten Campehl
Plant Manager of the Munich site

Now it's a matter of further stabilising the production ramp-up, ensuring the usual quality under the new conditions and continuing to supply our customers with a top product.

Michael Kobriger
Executive Board Member for Production and Logistics

Combined production needs more space

In the future, both electric and conventionally powered vehicles will be made on the same lines in Munich. This “combined production” increases the amount of space required for production and logistics, because parts for electric trucks will also be needed alongside those for diesel trucks. For example, one vehicle might be fitted with a 200-litre diesel tank, while the next one on the line will have a high-performance battery. Ripping out the chassis paint shop has provided the necessary extra space for combined production. This ensures that truck production in Munich is now best prepared for future demands.

The NLK sees fully painted chassis and add-on components used directly from suppliers. Previously, components arrived on the production line unpainted before being painted in the Munich chassis paint shop. As well as all the modifications, the new concept has also required changes to processes and staff training. Both of these are either already ongoing or have been started. All these measures have been developed by MAN’s planning, technology and assembly departments.

Michael Kobriger, Board Member for Production and Logistics, praises the implementation: "First of all, I would like to praise the entire team from and around planning, technology, purchasing, quality and assembly for the successful start-up. Now it's a matter of further stabilising the production ramp-up, ensuring the accustomed quality under the new conditions and continuing to supply our customers with a top product."

Sophisticated fixings

Just one of the reasons for process changes is that the new cast chassis components are coated in paint only a few micrometres thick and have to be fixed differently to unpainted components. The new, qualitatively demanding procedure for some 75 components ensures the best possible positioning of fixings to ensure that the parts last better. Depending on the configuration, between 40 and 80 fixings on each truck will be tightened using the new “rotation angle screw fixings”.

Ten screwdrivers have been fitted with new hardware and software, more have been purchased and other tools have been adapted to meet the new requirements. The modern devices are state of the art and ensure greater safety as well as improved visibility and ergonomics for operatives.

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are manufactured using the new process.


 

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can be tightened per truck in the future with the new "rotation angle screw fixings".


 

Changeover to black screws
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Good for the look: The change to black screws ensures a uniform overall appearance.

The importance of component handling increases

Corrosion-resistant screws and rivets in black will be the materials of choice in the future, which will also help to achieve an improved appearance. However, the most important factor is more deliberate and careful component handling by the workforce, because it will no longer be possible to touch up any scratches or other defects in the future. New containers will help to provide better protection for components: they are designed to prevent parts from rubbing against each other.

MAN does not want to see the expertise of the 60 or so people who previously worked in the chassis paint shop go to waste, so a reskilling process is under way for them. The first action began in February 2022. Around 30 employees were able to undertake a trial period working in the cab paint shop, enabling them to familiarise themselves with a possible new workplace. The second possible destination for staff from the former chassis paint shop is the quality department.

The basis of this reskilling offensive in the paint division is the MAN Academy, although the actual training process takes place in every workplace under the motto Learning on the Job. The majority of chassis paint operatives have already taken advantage of one of these two offers, while others have chosen to move into truck assembly. Furthermore, many were given the opportunity to achieve their truck driving licence. All to help them to be fit for the future at MAN.

Text   Christian Jeß
Photos   MAN

#Company#Truck#Strategy#Production#Sustainability
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