Not only increasingly connected cars: digitisation is a trend in many business processes. At Audi, an increasing number of IT specialists are driving the transformation.
Digitisation is a constantly evolving area, which every company holds in high regard for the optimisation and development of various processes. Audi is no exception, and observes an interesting trend: in many cases key roles for hi-tech projects are held by women. Some examples? The introduction of artificial intelligence in production, sustainability in motorsport and, of course, the transformation of the car. Anna Vogt, Daniela Buch, Kirsten Wellkamp and Lea Schwarz share visions and talk about their experiences within different technology departments.
Anna Vogt, Data Governance Production/Logistics
From high school to university
For Anna Vogt, who is in charge of production and logistics data governance, the first important moment was the choice of a university course. "I chose mechanical engineering after participating in a robotics course in high school; while I was at university I came into contact with MAN and the Volkswagen Group, after which I started as an apprentice at Audi. Looking back, I am really happy with that decision”, she says. At Audi, she is in charge of production data management, making sure that the data is always available at every stage of the process: “My colleagues and I at the P Data Factory make sure that the data is taken care of just as much as machines and facilities; well-kept data are crucial for using artificial intelligence, for instance”, Vogt adds.
Towards artificial intelligence
"We are developing use cases for artificial intelligence and data analytics, which we use to support interdepartmental teams in Audi production. With the success of ChatGPT everyone is talking about AI language models and we want to implement something similar in production. In this way, those working in maintenance would have the opportunity to communicate with a bot, which could offer tips and advice to simplify their work" explains Anna Vogt, who then turns to young women, advising them to keep an open mind and consider areas they may never have heard of. "Science and technology jobs are still mostly taken by men, although the number of women is growing. There are great career possibilities and development opportunities".
Daniela Buch, Data Analytics Production/Logistics
Daniela Buch deals with data analysis in production and logistics. After graduating from high school, she started working as a consultant in the automotive industry. "My first impact with the working world was hard: I had to put an automated small-parts storage system for into operation and everyone told me I lacked the knowledge and experience to do it, but I proved them wrong. That was a turning point for me: I decided that I would always accept challenges", says Daniela, who currently works in Data Driven Production within the Data Analytics department. "Our vision is to establish AI as a game changer for the future of production thanks to artificial intelligence; through data we want to design more efficient plants and processes. Predictive maintenance is a good example: we continuously monitor the condition of our machines and facilities to avoid unplanned downtime and predict ideal times for maintenance".
Passion and trust
Daniela Buch is convinced that data analytics and artificial intelligence are crucial for Audi's transformation towards data-driven production. Together with colleagues, she is working on a specific programme by planning strategic analyses, identifying activity areas for AI implementation and drafting the necessary roadmaps. "To women who choose a technical field, I suggest to trust themselves. It is important to evolve and keep learning over your entire life, and this is particularly true for technical professions. In parallel, one can work on soft skills, proudly showing commitment and achievements”, she concludes.
Kirsten Wellkamp, Data Development Lead
Kirsten Wellkamp works in the field of data analysis. She started her career as an industrial engineer specialising in mechanics, but after her first year at Audi she switched to IT. "I found an incredible team that supported me in that transition, so I decided to specialise further and deepen my IT skills, dedicating myself to data analysis", says Kirsten, who holds the position of Data Development Lead. "I am responsible for a data analysis development team and various IT products, including dashboards, reports and analyses for various Audi departments. The work is very multifaceted: we make sure the products work properly, assessing how to improve them and create new ones".
The next generation of batteries
One example of Kirsten Wellkamp's work is the analysis of battery data in electric vehicles during and after the production process. The data remains inside the battery throughout its life and can be analysed via software. “The Quality Assurance and Technical Development departments work together from this data to improve the next generation of batteries” says Wellkamp, who then shares a piece of advice for female colleagues entering the industry. “We women tend to overthink things. So, in a professional context, I think it is important to find out what we are really interested in. When I was at school, I never thought I would work in IT and enjoy it so much".
Lea Schwarz, Head of Drive and Energy Development
Lea Schwarz is responsible for the development of driving and energy management features. Her passion for cars comes from afar: “As a child, my father used to take me to DTM races and explain the technology to me. It all started there, then I decided I wanted to develop racing cars myself, so I chose to study mechanical engineering. At university I was part of the Formula Student team, thanks to which I learnt to take responsibility and develop my skills quickly. A further very important moment was the elaboration of my dissertation on sustainability in motorsport” says Lea, who today heads a team of 16 people, spread over several locations, dealing mainly with functional safety.
Never give up
"We define the way the car's functions operate while driving and their energy utilisation. One example is the management of the start-stop system and its operating logic”. Together with his team, Schwarz takes care of the entire development process and the entire functional chain, ensuring that the function behaves exactly as it was programmed. Her advice to all women looking at a career in engineering? "I think it is very important to find what we are passionate about and focus on that; when we decide to do something, it should be the opportunity or the challenge that suits us. It is easier to give your best when you work on something with enthusiasm and conviction, without being discouraged by setbacks: when you are passionate about something, you can study any subject or do any job”.
Source: AUDI AG
VGI | O.U. Responsible: VP | Date of creation: Date of article | Class 9.1