Partnering for SuccessZF’s Tuscaloosa Plant Works Toward a Dynamic Future

In mid-2011, Mercedes-Benz U.S. announced a major investment in its Vance, Alabama, facility. The billions of dollars in growth, new jobs and additional models meant that change was also coming for another plant, just 30 minutes down the road: ZF Chassis Systems Tuscaloosa.

ZF Tuscaloosa Expansion

ZF Tuscaloosa provides Mercedes with complete axle systems.

Fast forward two years, and the remodel and expansion of Mercedes’ original facility, “Plant 1,” are well underway. With the next generation C-Class sedan, and a future yet-to-be-named vehicle, added to the Vance production line-up, the need to expand ZF Tuscaloosa to meet Mercedes’ needs was imminent. Recently, the nearly 17-year-old facility broke ground on a 38,800-square foot expansion to make way for the C-Class business. The expansion includes squaring off the main original 164,000-square-feet building and adding a warehouse that will be accessible through a covered hallway.

Another change came as a result of a plant manager search; and in November 2011, the facility found an energetic and talented new leader in Brad Newman. His spirit of collaboration, as well as his respect for his colleagues and the company, has been a complement to the facility’s 326 employees.

Daily Management Reviews

Efficiency and Thoroughness are Crucial to Just in Time Delivery.

Tuscaloosa’s culture of innovation and constant improvement proved itself once again when, in early 2013, the facility implemented a “Daily Management Measurable Review” meeting. With an eye on profitability, the Tuscaloosa leadership team meets daily to review a dashboard-like one-page spreadsheet. “It allows us to keep the pulse of the facility regarding key measures associated with profitability. We watch it day-by-day and implement immediate changes as needed,” explained Newman. The meeting has also forced each department manager to understand more of what goes on in other departments. This tool keeps the plant management team’s eyes on overall profitability and not just their individual area of responsibility.

ZF Tuscaloosa has proven to be resilient in the face of change and as a result, has much to look forward to in the future.

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