The engine and battery plant in Jawor, Poland, is one of the most modern Mercedes-Benz locations in the world - and sets standards with CO2-neutral production and new manufacturing technologies. Since the beginning of this year, Barbara Brandstetter, Manager for Production Programme Planning and Outbound Logistics, has been working with her team to ensure that everything runs according to plan in the production and dispatch of engines and batteries. The industrial engineer started her expatriate and changed location by moving from the headquarters in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim, Germany, to Lower Silesia. In her interview, the logistics expert explains why Jawor has become like a second home to her and where she likes to play first fiddle at Daimler.
Ms Brandstetter, since the beginning of 2021 you have been working as an expatriate in Jawor, responsible for logistics at one of the world's most modern engine and battery factories. How did this come about?
The location fascinated me from the beginning, as my family is originally from Poland. When I visited my relatives there in 2017, Jawor was on my way. I then got an idea of the construction site for myself. Seeing this mega-factory grow was impressive. From a logistics point of view, the Jawor site also sets standards with its innovative One-Roof concept in which logistics and production are even more closely linked to our fully automated high-bay warehouse. I wanted to make a contribution with my experience.
So you applied.
Yes, the job description appealed to me immediately, because here I am able to bring in a lot of my previous experience. Previously, I was project manager for logistics in new product development powertrains at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Untertürkheim. For me, personal development is important and I wanted to gain more international experience. Then I found out about the possibility of going to Jawor as an expatriate, which is called "Global Assignment" at Daimler. I thought to myself, this is the perfect opportunity for me! And since February 2021, I have now been leading the Production Programme Planning and Outbound Logistics team here at the site.
How can we picture your work?
Together with my team, I am responsible for ensuring that everything runs smoothly in the production control and dispatch of our products - during ongoing operations and also in long-term planning. The four-cylinder engines, we produce here in Jawor, are used in many of our vehicles. Since last year, we have also been producing plug-in hybrid batteries for the C-, E- and S-Class here, and this year we will start the production of battery systems for our compact all-electric models EQA and EQB. Our drive systems are something like the heart of the vehicles. This makes it even more important that our components are available on time and in best quality at the plants where our vehicles are assembled, for example in Bremen or Rastatt, Germany.
How do you and your team ensure that the components arrive on time at the other Mercedes-Benz plants?
For this, close coordination with our process partners is important. We are constantly in contact with our colleagues from quality management, IT, production and the contact partners in our affiliated plants. A big advantage is that I also speak Polish - I often switch between German, English and Polish in my work, which makes a lot of things easier. What I love about my job is the proximity to our products. Our office is directly connected to the production and I can look through the window into our production hall.
So you are very close to the logistical processes when planning?
Exactly. Often we also walk around the factory and look at the processes directly on site. Recently, for example, we redesigned the storage area where the manufactured drive systems and components are temporarily stored for further transport. When we exchange ideas with our colleagues in production, there is often further potential for optimising our processes.
In Jawor you also started your first job as a manager. What is important to you when leading your team?
I was really looking forward to this new role. I lead a fairly young team of twelve colleagues with different specialisations: commercial and technical backgrounds. As a team leader, integrity is my number one priority. I want to be an advocate for my employees. We have a very open atmosphere in the team and also like to laugh together. A good team spirit is important to me.
What is special for you about working at Daimler?
It is simply the enthusiasm of all colleagues to drive innovation, whether in the field of electro-mobility or technologies in production and logistics. There are a lot of opportunities here to shape the future, which is precisely what excited me from the start. After the positive experience from my internship, I said to myself: "This is exactly the company I want to work for." So after finishing my studies in 2011, I joined the production planning department at Daimler.
Whether in the field of electro-mobility or technologies in production and logistics: at Daimler, there are a lot of opportunities to shape the future. That's what excited me from the beginning.
Since then, you have also been involved in the company in your spare time: You literally play the first violin in the Daimler Symphony Orchestra.
Oh yes (laughs). I've been playing in the Daimler Symphony Orchestra for ten years now and I'm also deputy concertmaster. We are over 70 musicians from very different departments: from development, production, marketing and controlling. Getting together with colleagues after work and making music is a great feeling. Rehearsals with our conductor Matthias Baur are usually on Mondays in the canteen at the headquarters in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim. During the COVID-19 pandemic we started rehearsing via video conference as well. So I can also join online from Jawor.
Do you mainly play classical music?
We have a wide-ranging repertoire: on the one hand, of course, we play great classical compositions by Beethoven and Mozart or by baroque masters such as Bach or Händel, which, by the way, I like best. But we also play modern music, such as well-known pop music songs or movie soundtracks. We often perform at events with mixed audiences. For example, we took part in the opening of our Factory 56 in Sindelfingen, Germany. There is something for everyone in our programme.
One last personal question: Who in your family do you think deserves a Nobel Prize?
Definitely my grandfather. He is already almost 90 years old and has worked all his life as an engineer in the metallurgical industry. To this day, he is involved in the association of the metallurgical industry and contributes his strength and all his expertise to ensure that the industry has a future in the region. I have great respect for that.
Barbara Brandstetter (32) loves hitting the road in her Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake. Growing up in Heilbronn, Germany, Daimler has always been the employer of choice for the automotive enthusiast. After her Master's degree in Ohio, USA, the industrial engineer initially started as an intern at the Daimler plant in Sindelfingen in 2010. Continuing her career, she gained experience in strategic production planning, capacity management and transport logistics. Before taking up her position as Manager Production Programme Planning and Outbound Logistics at the Jawor plant, she was Project Manager for Logistics in New Product Development Powertrain and shared her expertise as a lecturer in transport logistics with students at the dual university in Stuttgart (DH Baden-Württemberg). In her free time in Jawor, Barbara Brandstetter likes to explore the amazing cultural landscape of Silesia. Her personal highlight: The princely castle Zamek Książ in Wałbrzych.