An increasing number of operations and activities at ŠKODA’s facilities are undergoing digitalisation and automation. Join us on a tour around the Mladá Boleslav, Vrchlabí and Kvasiny plants as we explore the latest innovations.
The idea behind introducing automated processes to production is to free employees from routine activities, thus boosting the overall productivity levels. For example, as part of the Bin Picking pilot project in the Kvasiny body shop, a robot is responsible for moving parts all the way from pallets to the production line. The system operates exactly the same way as a human worker does. The robot removes the component from the pallet, checks the quality and transfers it to the appropriate assembly station.
A 3D camera creates a virtual three-dimensional image of the entire scene including the pallet, which contains around 200 randomly sorted parts. Next, artificial intelligence steps in. An algorithm selects the most accessible components (by calculating the potential success rate for each one) and guides the robot to the right part. A second 2D camera performs a quality control on every single part before the robot positions it correctly for the production line. The first robot is already in action on the production line and is operating at a 70 to 80 percent rate of reliability (measured by how often it makes the right choice at the first attempt).
Help for production and logistics workers in the Mladá Boleslav plant comes in the form of a modern technology based on light rays that provide assistance in carrying out tasks.
Laser projectors beam symbols onto surfaces using video mapping. The technique can be used for different purposes: in logistics, for example, it helps pack parts onto pallets. The laser projects symbols, pictures, texts and videos to show workers exactly where to place a specific part on the pallet, how to secure it and how to package it – and the system can also check whether the part has been inserted correctly.
Video mapping can also be used to improve safety in the workplace. It works by projecting symbols onto the floor throughout various areas of the plant, including Mladá Boleslav’s new paint shop. Although it has also been retrofitted for other purposes, this technology was originally designed to boost employee safety where they are most at risk – such as those areas where motorised trolleys operate. And when the system recognises someone entering the area, at a distance of between three and five meters, it projects a symbol onto the floor that reminds the worker to wear protective clothing.
A third use of video mapping is in the decor department, where laser-beamed instructions help employees to position labels, logos and signs bearing the correct model and engine names to the bodywork. Where workers previously had to follow written instructions, now all they need to do is line up the item with the projection.
Getting rid of paper and making information permanently accessible are just two of the targets that the production and logistics departments at Mladá Boleslav and Vrchlabí have set themselves in order to optimise production management at all levels.
23 smart TVs help make this happen. Located around offices, they feature an application that displays all documentation and key indicator data in electronic format. This is collected on a shared drive and available online through a web interface with a mobile app to follow shortly.
Digitalisation and the cloud
As part of the ongoing process of digitalisation, an increasing number of ŠKODA employees are using 3,900 licenses for a package of applications that simplify operations. MS Teams, for example, is a unified communications platform that allows staff to create teams to manage projects, exchange information and share data and documents through the Sharepoint cloud, which is not constrained by the limits of a traditional hard-drive. A trial is currently underway, to evaluate how different types of data will behave in the cloud.
The ultimate objective is to move all data from hard drives to the new online platform. Another digital tool is the Power Bi app, which allows employees to create user-defined reports, as well as to view defects, check replacement parts and monitor energy consumption.