The Volkswagen Group is pushing ahead with the integration of its plants into the Volkswagen Industrial Cloud; the aim is to further improve the efficiency of the plants and reduce production costs. (Earlier post.) The first three plants were already linked up in 2019. In 2020, the Group will integrate 15 more into the Cloud, said Gerd Walker, Head of Production of the Volkswagen Group.
Work on the project continued consistently while production was suspended during the COVID-19 crisis.
From 2016 to 2025, Volkswagen intends to boost the productivity of its plants by 30% and the Industrial Cloud will be a key lever for achieving this objective, said Walker. All in all, the Group expects cost savings totaling several billion euros when the data of all 124 plants can be evaluated in a standardized way.
The Industrial Cloud is built on Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Siemens is the integration partner.
In 2019, the Volkswagen Group initially started with the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand’s Chemnitz, Wolfsburg and Polkowice (Poland) plants, in line with its plans.
The 15 additional plants slated for integration this year are from the Audi, Seat, Skoda, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Porsche and Components brands. These include the plants at Brunswick, Emden, Hanover, Ingolstadt, Kassel, Leipzig, Neckarsulm, Salzgitter, Zuffenhausen and Zwickau (all in Germany), Martorell (Spain), Palmela (Portugal), Györ (Hungary), and Mladá Boleslav and Vrchlabi (Czech Republic).
Cost savings through standardization. In the first step, the Group defined 15 different applications which are now being made available as standardized apps for all plants. The main focuses include the predictive maintenance of machines and the reduction of reworking on vehicles through artificial intelligence (AI). The implementation of the first 15 applications alone is already expected to bring cost savings of about €200 million up to the end of 2025.
In the “brownfield” approach, data from several hundred thousand machines and plant items will be recorded by sensors and analyzed by standardized apps on the Cloud. Each machine, equipment item and system will be connected manually. In the case of older machines, it will also be necessary to install sensors.
In the final stage of development, the total quantity of information to be processed each day will correspond to the volume of data from a small town in Germany.
Currently, 220 experts within the Group are working on the project and the number is due to rise to about 500 by the end of 2020.
The solutions and applications currently being developed by Volkswagen are also to be made available to other companies within an open ecosystem; development work on these applications will then continue together with the other companies. In this context, there is no focus on the automotive sector.
Discussions with a number of other partners from various sectors have already reached a very advanced stage, the Group said. Joint utilization and development offer considerable advantages for those participating because they will not need to develop the platform and services themselves and can benefit from synergies within the system.