+49 (0) 421 9600-10
15 May 2018 - Jann Raveling

How Mercedes-Benz in Bremen manages C-Class production around the world

Automotive Industries
Behind the scenes at the Mercedes-Benz C-Class plant in Bremen-Sebaldsbrück

The Mercedes-Benz plant in Sebaldsbrück: car production on 1.5 million square metres
The Mercedes-Benz plant in Sebaldsbrück: car production on 1.5 million square metres © Daimler

Mercedes-Benz currently manufactures its most successful model, the C-Class, at four sites around the world: in Bremen, in Tuscaloosa in the USA, in East London in South Africa and in Beijing. Four sites on four continents, tens of thousands of employees, countless model variants – this is the Champions League of logistics.

And Andrea Schreiber is a key player. As head of production start-up logistics at Mercedes-Benz in Bremen, she ensures that everything runs smoothly whenever there is a new model or when there are changes to the current model. And not just in Bremen, but at all the other plants. “We ensure that every part is available in the right place at the right time, and with the right quality, whenever a new model or other changes are pending. We coordinate the suppliers around the world. This requires considerable skill and attention to detail,” says Schreiber, who was born in Stuttgart and has been living in Bremen for 30 years.

Highly detailed international deployment planning

In its role as lead plant, the C-Class manufacturing facility in Bremen fulfils a range of tasks for the model series, such as planning capacity and production trials, managing international deployments and coordinating parts for production start-ups. This means considering questions such as: which model variants are being built where and in what quantity? When will changes in production be adopted? How can I ensure that all parts are in the right place at the right time? When can suppliers deliver parts to which site?

From 0 to 60 – how a new series begins

The site in Bremen is always the first to run a C-Class start-up. Cars are initially built in Sindelfingen during the pre-production phase, during which final teething problems are fixed and manufacturing defects are identified before going into full production. Once this has been completed, the production tests start at the lead plant in Bremen, and the experience gained here is passed on to the other production plants. In some cases, the vehicles are integrated into series production at an early stage of the product development process at the lead plant in Bremen – there are no separate assembly lines and factory halls. “You just feel like you want to be there and supervise every step,” says Schreiber with a smile.

Andrea Schreiber, head of production start-up logistics at Mercedes-Benz in Bremen
Andrea Schreiber, head of production start-up logistics at Mercedes-Benz in Bremen © Daimler

Bremen also provides training for teams from other plants. Over a period of 4 to 6 weeks, employees from the USA, South Africa and China are taught the most important skills, which they then pass on to their colleagues at home. Once series production starts in Bremen, the other plants follow suit soon after. The parallel ramp-up phases are the busiest months for the logistics experts in the Lead Plant C-Class unit.

Working closely with the Development unit

Despite the highly modular nature of car manufacturing, every new model generation has its own assembly methods and new logistics processes. The start-up department is involved from the start. Things start to get busy 18 months before a series goes into full production, and a year in advance the first vehicles are manufactured.

Firefighting around the world

Bremen’s role as the lead plant is not only in demand whenever there is a new model. Schreiber and her 60-strong team are kept busy all year round. Each part is changed four times on average over the course of a vehicle generation, which may also involve changes to the production processes. Schreiber calls this firefighting: “We maintain a constant dialogue with suppliers and the plants. It’s these daily challenges that make the job so exciting. ‘Can’t be done’ doesn’t exist for us. Somehow we always manage to find a solution in time, either here in Bremen or in the international plants,” she says.

Growing into the lead plant role

The lead plant role was first introduced with the launch of the current C-Class series in early 2013. As she has been there from the start, Schreiber has learned a lot in recent years. “Initially, we didn’t know how far we had to get involved in controlling the logistics processes at the international plants. After all, the other sites had been successfully manufacturing Mercedes-Benz models for years. Now everything is well rehearsed. We all learn from one another, we share our experiences, channel our expertise and continually improve. Progressing as a team is what motivates us,” Schreiber explains. Rather than inhabiting a pure leadership function, she sees the lead plant’s role as that of a mediator and conduit of knowledge.

Why it is sometimes more efficient to be less German

The initial phase was anything but simple: “We started off by visiting our partner plants, but we soon realised that our direct, formal approach wasn’t making much progress,” Schreiber admits with a grin. Other countries, different cultures – and that applies particularly to the world of work. During a visit to the plant in China, the first week was spent getting to know each other. Only once everyone had made a connection at the human level was it possible to have meaningful discussions about work.

Around the globe: The C-Class production of the current series
Around the globe: The C-Class production of the current series © Daimler

Today, getting to know each other and embracing foreign cultures are a fundamental element of her work. “We don’t really reach people if we only communicate at a formal level. Once we have established trust and confidence, we can get things done quickly and easily. Getting to know each other has a direct impact on efficiency. Only once I know my counterpart well enough that I am able to recognise his voice in a conference call will I know that I can work with him effectively. Building a relationship based on trust by getting to grips with cultural differences and through mutual respect is half the battle,” says Schreiber.

Car production around the clock

English is the lingua franca in her department, which is often visited by colleagues from the partner plants who come to work and to gain experience. The plants stay in regular contact through conference calls, which take place twice a day due to the global nature of the network – in the early morning with China and in the late evening with the USA. Every year, Schreiber spends a week at each plant to maintain her contacts there.

Travelling the world – at home in Bremen

Originally from Swabia in south-west Germany, Schreiber now feels at home in Bremen: “I love the variety of arts and entertainment on offer, the mix of new and old in the Schnoor and Viertel quarters, and the excellent quality of life. I really enjoy living here.” She appreciates the flexibility that the site and her team offers, and she regularly brings in young talent to provide them with training. There is just one habit she cannot break – her Swabian dialect. “Well, I do have to fly the flag for Swabia up here in the north,” she says with a wink, before being called into the next conference call – the USA is on the line.

To find out, which cars Mercedes manufactures in Bremen, look at our overview of "ten models made at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen".


Andreas Gerber

acquisition and projects

Team leader Bremeninvest

P +49 (0) 421 9600-123


13 November 2019
Tradition meets innovation

The state of Bremen covers 420 square kilometres and is home to around 670,000 people. Almost 22,000 companies provide more than 325,000 jobs. Below, we introduce some of the strong sectors that that make Bremen such an excellent business location.

Automotive Industries
8 January 2019
Bremen’s automotive industry at a glance

Automotive engineering is one of the key industries in the state of Bremen. An overview of companies, institutes and initiatives at the location.

Success stories
13 November 2018
Bremen is one of Germany’s leading industrial hubs

Bremen is Germany’s sixth-largest industrial hub in terms of revenue. Whether the sector is aerospace, food, automotive, shipping or steel production, Bremen has always been a major player.

Investing in Bremen
16 October 2018
The Bremen property market is booming

Bremen is expanding. Several construction projects will reshape the city centre. The 2018 Bremen property market report – an overview of office, logistics and retail properties, and of investment market trends – confirms that the city is an attractive location for investors and developers.

Success stories
6 September 2018
Safety first: sensor expertise in Bremen

We don’t normally get to see Littelfuse’s products. And yet there’s hardly any electronic device that doesn’t require components from this global market leader. The European headquarters of the US firm are located in Bremen. And they’re far more than just a sales office.

Investing in Bremen
28 June 2018
Business parks in Bremen – space for individual requirements

Bremen has the right location to suit any company, from the logistics sector at the Cargo Distribution Center (GVZ) to research institutes at the Technology Park and international companies at Bremen Airport-Stadt. Or perhaps you are looking for more of a mix of sectors to stimulate creativity? We can show you the right business park to suit your needs.

Automotive Industries
6 June 2018
Is this the office of the future?

How will we be working in the future? Daimler’s Innolab in Bremen’s Überseestadt district provides an answer to this question. And anyone can come and see it.

Investing in Bremen
24 May 2018
From greenfield site to Hansalinie Industrial Estate: the flagship project continues to grow

The Bremen Hansalinie Industrial Estate is ideally situated for businesses in the automotive industry, located in the immediate vicinity of the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen just off the A1 autobahn. But it also offers a number of benefits for service providers, trading companies and the skilled trades. If you want to set up business here, you need to act quickly.

Automotive Industries
6 March 2018
A race against the clock

The production line hardly ever stops at the second-largest Mercedes Benz plant in the world. Thousands of components have to be delivered to the right place at the right time – there is no room for errors or delays. LOREL Logistik GmbH undertakes a huge logistics operation every day to ensure that everything runs like clockwork.

Automotive Industries
5 December 2017
Bremen scientists helping to pave the way for the driverless cars of tomorrow

Working on your laptop while the car takes care of the steering? This could well be the future for car travel. Teams in Bremen are working towards this end goal, with scientists from the university taking their first test car out on the road. Their expertise in aerospace comes in handy here too.

Automotive Industries
18 October 2017
Electric dreams – taking on the world in a self-built racing car

Formula Student is a world-wide competition for self-built racing cars, with the season’s final race held at Hockenheim. A Bremen-based team has been taking part in the competition with an electric racing car since 2013, and their ambitious goal is to break into the top ten.

10 August 2017
Engineers from Bremen are working on the electric drive system of the future

An engine under the bonnet drives the wheels – this is the configuration that has been powering cars for over a hundred years. However, wheel hub motors – i.e. motors in the hub of the wheel, not under the bonnet – promise many advantages. Electric drive systems make this possible.

Investing in Bremen
16 May 2017
Innovative Logistics at the Bremen Hansalinie Industrial Estate

The Bremen Hansalinie Industrial Estate is a successful business park that is currently undergoing expansion. Several major logistics companies have based themselves here, developing increasingly sophisticated processes that aim to optimise just-in-sequence production for the automotive industry.

Investing in Bremen
4 May 2017
Chinese business people get to grips with vehicles made in Bremen

They came, they saw, they marvelled – Chinese business people in Bremen visited the Mercedes-Benz plant and were surprised to find that an automotive manufacturer with a vast robot workforce was also Bremen’s largest employer, with just under 13,000 (human) employees. But where do they all work?

Automotive Industries
27 April 2017
Ten Bremen-based automotive suppliers

A car plant seldom comes alone. Many suppliers have based themselves in close proximity to the automotive giant Mercedes Benz in Bremen. They ensure that the assembly line never stops. We demonstrates the wide range of companies and technologies that make up Bremen's automotive supply chain

Automotive Industries
12 April 2017
Photo gallery: eleven models made at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen

No fewer than ten Mercedes-Benz models proudly bear the seal 'Made in Bremen'. They range from standard saloons to sports cars and SUVs. Which one do you like best?

Automotive Industries
28 February 2017
The biggest car park in Europe

BLG LOGISTICS GROUP AG & Co. KG’s AutoTerminal in Bremerhaven is a record-breaking automotive hub. Every year, the terminal handles some 2.3 million vehicles. But that’s not all.

Automotive Industries
24 January 2017
Five reasons why Bremen is a leading automotive hub

Bremen knows how to make cars: the Mercedes-Benz plant by the Weser river has been in operation for almost 40 years, is the focal point of the city’s automotive industry and automotive clusters, and is now the company’s biggest global facility in terms of vehicle production numbers. Reason enough for an ever-growing number of suppliers and logistics firms to base themselves in Bremen.

Automotive Industries
24 January 2017
Five reasons why Bremen is a leading automotive hub

Bremen knows how to make cars: the Mercedes-Benz plant by the Weser river has been in operation for almost 40 years, is the focal point of the city’s automotive industry and automotive clusters, and is now the company’s biggest global facility in terms of vehicle production numbers. Reason enough for an ever-growing number of suppliers and logistics firms to base themselves in Bremen.