Mercedes-Benz plant in East London (South Africa)

13Mercedes-Benz-South-Africa-East-London

#thisisdaimler: East London

In our series #thisisdaimler we visit Daimler locations all over the world. In each episode, an employee from the respective location presents the local characteristics – from his or her personal perspective. This time, our Daimler World Tour takes us to the Eastern Cape of South Africa, where Nomtha Munyaka guides us through the Mercedes-Benz plant in East London.

My name is Nomtha Munyaka, but I am mostly known by my brand name “Fabulous”. My journey with Mercedes-Benz South Africa began in September 2014 by the sheer brilliance of luck, the grace of God and perhaps good wishes from my Ancestors too.

I was born in East London but left the city straight after I finished my High school to start University in Port Elizabeth - a city 300 kilometres away. After graduating, I remained in Port Elizabeth and in 2014, I had to come back to East London, due to family reasons.

Even with my vast working experience, I anticipated that getting employment in this city would be difficult but as luck, grace and all would have it, there was an opening at Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) just waiting for me. One interview is all it took for me to work for one of the Best Employers in South Africa, and join the brand that epitomizes the Best or Nothing.

I currently work as a Controller in the Finance and Controlling division of Mercedes-Benz South Africa. We are responsible for the overhead controlling and performance of the plant. The work is hectic because it is largely deadline driven and we deal with planning and reporting on overhead budgets for different division, which has a lot of management focus. Not only do we need to be analytical as we deal with figures a lot but also need to be good at communicating what all the numbers mean, as much as possible. My normal workday is always different and each day has its own different set of challenges.

Location facts of the plant in East London
Location facts of the plant in East London

Warm people lighten up the atmosphere

Working in a fast-paced, deadline driven environment can be overwhelming but I work with a great team. We have each other’s backs and they teach and guide me a lot. When the going gets tough, we always try to lighten up the spirit around us. It makes a world of a difference to me to work with awesome people. Teamwork really does make the dream work.

Furthermore, all our colleagues are warm and friendly. Even when it is sometimes stressful, we never lose our good mood. Everyone is willing to help, always has a friendly welcoming smile, and most importantly, we greet each other as we walk around the plant. It must be an African thing perhaps, but we are warm people who do best to make even strangers feel at home here.

Production facts of the plant in East London
Production facts of the plant in East London

Lunch is very important to me. For 30 minutes, I try to disconnect from my work. We have nice facilities in my office block with lovely dining areas besides the canteen. Most of the time I spend my lunchtime with friends or just catch up on my social media feeds. To get along well with each other, language always helps - 80 percent of Plant employees are Xhosa speaking. IsiXhosa is the second most commonly spoken language in South Africa.

Commitment for the region East London

Daimler’s engagement in the East London region makes us proud to work here. With initiatives like the Mercedes-Benz Learning Academy, we promote the overall industrial and commercial development of the Eastern Cape. A great information is our jubilee last year: 25 years of woman on the assembly line!

Situated in a city called East London, which is on the southeast coast of South Africa, our Plant produces the C-Class Sedan, including the Hybrid variant of the C-Class. The Mercedes-Benz plant in East London is part of the global production network for the C-Class, with its leadplant in Bremen. The network also includes the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa (USA) and the joint venture plant BBAC in Peking (China).

Nomtha "Fabulous" Munyaka works as a Controller at Mercedes-Benz South Africa.
Nomtha "Fabulous" Munyaka works as a Controller at Mercedes-Benz South Africa.
Mercedes-Benz plant East London, South Africa.
Mercedes-Benz plant East London, South Africa.
Get together: Coffee break with colleagues.
Get together: Coffee break with colleagues.
"Working together is success".
"Working together is success".
Daimler location East London.
Daimler location East London.
The production plant in East London is located about four kilometres from the harbor.
The production plant in East London is located about four kilometres from the harbor.
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The Plant is about four kilometres from the harbor and that is one of the draw points within the Daimler network. The area we are in is largely industrial with our plant featuring prominently in the region’s industrial zone. In many of the buildings around the plant, you can glance through the window and witness a splendid view of the ocean.

Furthermore, it is the only river harbor in South Africa. That is an important fact for the commercial integration of the region. The harbor with terminals for vehicles is an important point for the big employers in our region. And, Daimler is the biggest one!

Expansion and modernization of the plant

In 2018, an investment set the course for the future. The car production area was expanded. This expansion represents an increase of two thirds of the existing passenger car production area. This includes a new paint shop and a new body shop, the extension of the existing assembly hall and new logistics facilities. That is how we have the capacity to produce cars for left-hand and right-hand drivers.

Assembly of the engine radiator
Assembly of the engine radiator
Attention to detail: assembly of the interior equipment
Attention to detail: assembly of the interior equipment
Daimler plant East London
Daimler plant East London
Full-flex assembly is used in the production of the body parts
Full-flex assembly is used in the production of the body parts
Assembly line at the Mercedes-Benz plant East London.
Assembly line at the Mercedes-Benz plant East London.
C-Class production.
C-Class production.
Last step: Quality Gate.
Last step: Quality Gate.
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Consequence of this investment is that the manufacturing process of our plant gets environmentally friendlier. The new paint shop for example uses the newest technologies, which contribute to energy efficiencies. The new Industry 4.0 robots and additional assembly lines reduce energy consumption per vehicle produced at the East London Plant by 25 percent.

Outstanding is also that we save up to one million liters of water on our plant on roofs and green corridors. As if that was not enough, our site uses another technology for becoming environmentally friendlier. By digitalizing processes in the C-Class assembly, we save up to four million sheets of paper every year. We build twelve different versions of the C-Class. And this is just one of the many great cars from Daimler.

Personally, I have two favorite cars from the Mercedes-Benz portfolio. Definitely, the CLA 250 (Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 6,9–5,9 l / 100 km, CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 159–135 g/km*) with AMG styling, that car is absolutely fabulous just like me - I hope I will own it one day. Then the ultimate beast in the portfolio, my other favorite, is the G-Class G63 (Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 13,3-13,1 l / 100 km, CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 304-299 g/km*).

I am proud that the work I do contributes to producing one of the best cars in the world. It is very self-satisfying to know that every day "I make a Mercedes".

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Nomtha Munyaka

is Controller at Mercedes-Benz South Africa and widely known by her nickname "Fabulous". Her favourite car from the Mercedes-Benz portfolio is the CLA – because it is just as fabulous as her.

More about the author

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