In spring of 1996, Daimler-Benz AG completed construction of its first North American passenger vehicle plant, just outside Birmingham, Ala., built to produce the new Mercedes-Benz M-Class All-Activity Vehicle. Faced with the task of lighting the $300 million, 1-million-sq-ft facility, the world’s oldest automaker looked for help from a company as experienced in lighting as it is at making cars.

Randall Sagan, electrical engineer at Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI), who oversees the facility’s lighting, worked closely with the lighting manufacturer to develop a plan to effectively illuminate the 24-hr facility.

With product availability and ease of dealing with one manufacturer, the products also mesh with the philosophy and architecture of the facility. By selecting poles and fixtures for the parking areas and roadways, MBUSI was able to complement the building’s contemporary white exterior and “bring the outside in” with high ceilings and skylights for a crisp interior layout.

MBUSI has over 3000 fixtures, including 400W HPS for roadways and parking lots; 70W, 150W, and 400W HPR perimeter lights; 400W MH and HPS for general purpose; and 4-ft and 8-ft fluorescents.

Standardization also reduces the spare parts kept in inventory as various ballasts and lenses, for example, are interchangeable. The standardization also makes life easier in the maintenance department as maintenance engineers don’t have to relearn equipment when they move from one area of the plant to another.