Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing Plant – Vance, Ala.
CHALLENGE: Vance, Ala., is subjected to the heat and humidity that blankets the South in spring, summer and early fall. That climate can take a rapid toll on corrosion-prone metal, such as the steel that was used to construct the original external air handling units for Mercedes-Benz’s automotive manufacturing plant.
The massive plant’s 100-plus rooftop air handling units supply the ventilation and air conditioning systems. But after only a decade of operation, the facility’s officials noticed a troubling and rapidly developing problem: The steel on the external portions of the air handling units was already rusting.
SOLUTION: To address the problem, the plant’s leaders decided to install aluminum air handling units from Air Enterprises. Unlike steel, aluminum doesn’t rust and is highly resistant to other forms of corrosion. The process of replacing the 100-plus units began in 2007 and is ongoing.
Air Enterprises custom designed an air handling solution for the automotive plant with ease of installation in mind. The units are relatively large, and although they can be assembled on site if the job calls for it, the simpler solution from an installation standpoint is to ship the units fully constructed and hoist them into place with a crane.
The air handling units arrive fully assembled, with all controls, wires and piping in place, allowing for a relatively quick and simple installation process. Workers hoist the unit into place, attach the necessary wires and pipes to the building, and secure it.
RESULTS: By investing in aluminum air handling units, Mercedes-Benz is investing in the future efficiency and safety of its Alabama facility. Because aluminum units don’t rust, there is much less risk of corrosion, leaks and subsequent downtime to make additional repairs.
The future safety and efficiency of air handling for the automotive plant is all the more important when you consider the planned expansion to accommodate production of Mercedes’ C-Class auto line — the first compact car line it will manufacture in the U.S.