In just 2019, employees participated in 400 workshops on efficiency measures at the plant. The nearly 1,000 individual measures that resulted have mostly been implemented, and they have contributed toward accelerating processes and lowering costs. “When it comes to efficiency, we have made further progress despite some challenges in the past year,” said Andreas Tostmann, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen brand for Production and Logistics. “This is an accomplishment by the entire team which did excellent work here. I am very grateful to them.” Tostmann emphasised, however, that now is not the time to “slacken our efforts.”
Bernd Osterloh, Chairman of the Works Committee: “The workforce at the main plant in Wolfsburg showed flexibility and top-notch performance in a difficult year. At the same time, they continually offered new ideas and proposals for improving production systems which boosted productivity. Volkswagen is also making huge investments in the Wolfsburg plant. These innovations by the workforce and investments open the door for new products. The team at the main plant is prepared for them.”
One focal point of the measures was digital solutions. The highlight is a production method that is unique in the global automotive industry: From now on, welds on car bodies at the plant will no longer be made manually with ultrasound, rather they will be automatically inspected by ultrasound, and the data will be transferred to an IT system in real time. Loth: “This represents a huge step for plant efficiency, and it is an excellent idea from the team.” After the project has been implemented, annual cost savings will be around three million euros. The company plans to transfer the solution to other production sites progressively.
Another example of increased efficiency is in the area of human-robot collaboration. In Wolfsburg, robots have been checking and adjusting the alignment of vehicle headlamps since the end of 2019. Workers only need to turn on the lamps and no longer need to exit the vehicle to align the lamps themselves. Another measure that will save millions of euros is installation of doors and boot lids in vehicles by robots which is being implemented over the course of the year. Data such as gap dimensions, will automatically be processed further by an IT solution.
Loth: “We will continue to consistently follow the path to the digital factory with our entire team in 2020.”
The Wolfsburg plant also took an impressive step in 2019 with its STARK demographic project which involves utilising people with activity restrictions in production. In this project, up to 300 employees work hand-in-hand to fill 70 jobs. These employees with activity restrictions, who create value and are highly valued, produce 1,200 cockpits at specially laid out workstations in ongoing cycled production operations.