If there’s anything the recent global pandemic has revealed is that life is full of uncertainties and the same is in the case of the automotive sector. With so much ambiguity and future challenges like erratic supply situation, shortage of semiconductor chips, ramping up of electric vehicles etc, Audi has decided to set up an efficient, flexible and sustainable assembly line production to meet the ever-growing demand.
“We’re using synergies and looking at production as a whole – from the worker to the fully automated cycle,” says Gerd Walker, Member of the Board of Management for Production and Logistics. “We’re digitizing specifically within the framework of an open innovation culture. We’re ensuring efficient value creation and making it possible to utilize resources and capacities flexibly and efficiently.”
What makes Audi’s new modular assembly line different? With so many different customization options and variants, Audi believes having a flexible process is the answer to all these challenges.
Audi is initially implementing the concept in interior door panel pre-assembly in the Ingolstadt plant. Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) bring door panels right to the station where the components are assembled. “By reducing production time through an orientation toward value creation and self-guidance, we can increase productivity by up to 20 per cent in some cases,” says Wolfgang Kern, project manager in the Audi Production Lab.
A model’s various designs and equipment variants can be examined quickly and efficiently in different environments and lighting conditions using virtual representations. The goal is to move the design into production with the least number of possible cuts and get it on the road for customers. Audi ensures it can build a particular model to spec from both a constructive and a qualitative perspective. With 3D simulations of the body, the effects of component and assembly tolerances can be foreseen in the vehicle’s image.
Virtual assembly planning eliminates the need to build prototypes in the planning process. A scanning process generates three-dimensional point clouds that can be used to virtually reverse engineer machines and infrastructure. The software makes it possible for employees at Audi to navigate through assembly lines virtually.
Currently, Audi is working with NavVis to test Spot the robot dog so they can do the 3D scans as efficiently as possible. The robot dog can do that scanning in 48 hours and figure out his route autonomously. Audi has been testing Spot intensively since December 2021.
With the help of Edge Cloud 4 Production, Audi wants fewer centralised local servers in the field of factory automation. After successful testing in the Audi Production Lab (P-Lab), three local servers will take over worker support in the Böllinger Höfe. If this unique automation technology performs consistently and efficiently then this will cut down on the company’s reliance on hardware and only new software applications will need to be bought.