Automated guided vehicles that transport vehicles, robots that provide logistic support, bionic robots that assemble all kinds of components, collaborative robots, Google glasses, augmented reality and 3D printers for complex shapes and lighter materials. This is the new Audi Factory in Ingolstadt. It is the “factory of the future”.
The largest production center of the Audi Group and the Europe’s second-largest automobile factory has abandoned chain production in favor of “Modular Assembly System”. Well-known models as the Audi A3, Audi A4, Audi A5, Audi Q5 and the young Q2 are manufactured in Ingolstadt and they will be the firsts to experience this new manufacturing system.
The German giant has announced its commitment to the Industry 4.0 in its Audi TechDay Smart Factory. It is a factory where people control and robots work. It is a bet for automation and digitization: in control center is supervised operation of the entire plant.
The objective? Be faster and more efficient. This system allows unit customization, streamlines production by maximizing manufacturing time and reducing waiting times.
The car’s body does no longer go through a linear assembly line, each unit is transported on autonomous platforms to receive the components in each assembly station. “As in the supermarket checkout, where the customer goes to the shortest waiting line, the vehicles go to the stations where the utilization is low,” explains the engineer and director of innovation of Fabian Rusitschka. In addition, not all cars require the same components, and therefore do not require to go through all the assembly modules, the whole process is faster. Audi estimates that productivity has increased 20%.
Seems that chaos, accidents and crashes can take place, but the modules are fully sensorized and can recognize and overcome obstacles.
In addition to this new assembly system, Audi explores other technologies such as robotics. Its true that robots can be easily find in automotive factories, but Ingolstadt goes further, Audi tests the latest generation of robots with bionic tools. They can pick-up all kinds of components, with different forms and weights, with human delicacy and as precise as robots.
Drones and 3D printers are also found in Ingolstadt. Drones carry lighter objects such as steering wheels or screws, and can quickly supply small components to the assembly station in case of emergency. Drones are also being improved, next generation will be able to carry heavier loads, up to 2.2 kg. On the other hand, 3D printers allow working with lighter composite materials, with the aim of reducing vehicles weight and complex shapes printing.
Check out the video!