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VW develops “ride-along” platform for material logistics at Wolfsburg; parts delivery optimized, process reliability increased

Volkswagen Plant Logistics has developed and deployed an innovative system for gathering materials at the Wolfsburg Plant: the ride-along platform.

More vehicle models, more different versions and bespoke customer requests have made the logistics process very complex. By using the new ride-along platform we reduce the time taken sequencing and the susceptibility to mistakes.

—Reinhard de Vries, Head of Plant Logistics

Up until now, to gather together the materials in sync with the order of vehicle production (sequencing) the workers have had to maneuver heavy trolleys. Due to the parts having many different variants, there was also a risk of confusion. The process was also not ergonomic and the employees had to walk a long way from rack to rack.

Tobias Kubsch and Daniel Spielmann from the Operational Logistics team, responsible for equipment and support, developed what they call the ride-along platform: an interconnected system that optimizes this complex process sees a mobile platform transport the workers from one shelving rack to the next.

Safety scanners monitor where the platform is going. If there is an obstacle in the way, the platform is immediately brought to a stop. The worker scans the pick list straight into the ride-along platform's system. After the job has been entered, the platform uses the pick list as the basis for automatically moving to the required picking points, which match the order in the production process.

Up to two materials trolleys can be hooked up to the ride-along platform and simultaneously filled. The order of the picking points is controlled to optimise the route. An LED light shows the worker the side from which to pick. A moving headlight projects a spot of light onto a compartment in the material trolley and shows the worker the bins in which the materials are to be put. The loading of the materials trolley is monitored by a laser scanner. If an error occurs, this is corrected by the employee before work can continue in the prescribed order (zero error strategy).

Four further ride-along platforms are currently being built and are due to go into operation one after the other before the year is out. Other Volkswagen sites have already indicated interest in the new system. It is planned to use the ride-along platform at other Volkswagen brand sites as well.

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