What is the recipe for an efficient production, from all points of view? Measuring every single vehicle body and a careful analysis of enormous amounts of data – this is the strategy developed by the Audi Production Lab for the body shop in Ingolstadt.
For every Audi that leaves the production line, the vehicle body gap dimensions are perfectly uniform. This can largely be attributed to the work of engineer Ralf Hofmeister and his colleagues Dirk Zitterell and Rudolf Reinhard from the Audi Production Lab.“Our tool, called ‘K-PoWa’, is used for process-driven event chain analysis in body construction,” explains Ralf Hofmeister.
Each vehicle body and the subgroups of principal components are measured at the Ingolstadt plant: “In doing so, we can tell if there are anomalies in the production process in relation to the vehicle geometry, and whether they have an impact on the overall result or affect each other in any way. By using data science for anomaly detection, we can perform fully automated statistical process monitoring of the measurement series”, concludes Hofmeister.
A total of 92 measuring stations with 412 sensors are operated in Ingolstadt by the body shop in collaboration with the Analysis Center. Around 1,000 measuring points are recorded for each vehicle model. A measuring point is a defined position on the vehicle at which the body or component is measured to determine compliance with default set values and to identify any changes that need to be made.
“We generate vast amounts of data with our measurements – about three million records per day”, Hofmeister continues. “We wouldn’t be able to monitor this enormous quantity of data completely manually. This is where K-PoWa comes into play: the tool demonstrates what Industry 4.0 means and how big data can help all of us”.
Humans and machinery generate immense volumes of data in Audi production – a tendency that is rising steeply. This data contains a wide range of valuable information and correlations. Big data lead to a shift towards flexible, but also efficient production. This is because the targeted merging, processing and evaluation of the data also delivers substantial added value in terms of sustainability.
Designing effective processes and avoiding errors ensures that resources and materials are used sparingly and efficiently, while optimized production processes ease the burden on employees.
The three million records generated every day by the body shop are only the beginning. The Audi Production Lab is developing a range of new technologies: “We collaborate with colleagues from the Production division to develop cutting edge tools for data analysis in production or planning”, adds Rudolf Reinhard. “The lab acts as an interface between innovation and production, and provides targeted support for employees and planners in production”.
Audi Smart Factory Hackathon
The K-PoWa team has developed a technical analysis tool that records and visually presents relationships in the data comprehensively and quantitatively. The initial stages of the development process were presented during the Audi Smart Factory Hackathon, a format frequently used by the company to drive targeted innovation. The project is now being developed by a multidisciplinary team consisting of employees from P-Lab, the body shop, the Analysis Center and IT.
The number of patents generated by a company is a good indicator of its ability to innovate, and Audi’s record speaks for itself: in recent years it has been one of the most active car manufacturers when it comes to patents. It registered 1,200 in 2019 alone, many of which were connected to autonomous driving.
“As a premium carmaker, we set ourselves very high standards”, concludes Rudolf Reinhard. “Our preventive measurement technology makes production more sustainable: it is cost efficient and contributes towards a reduction in energy consumption and waste generation”.
Source: Audi AG