Audi’s innovative production lines, which sees humans and robots work hand-in-hand, car-body parts emerge from a 3D printer and finished vehicles drive themselves off the assembly line, have been showcased in a new issue of the automaker’s own Encounter magazine. The automaker says it is pursuing its vision for the “factory of the future,” an accomplishment which it has already achieve in some ways.
“Automobile production as we know it today will no longer exist in the future. It will become more connected, more intelligent and more efficient, said Audi board member for production management, Prof. Dr. Hubert Watl. “New specialists such as network architects will increasingly move into our industry. With their IT expertise, they will configure machinery so that all processes will be extremely well coordinated and the factory equipment will optimally support the employees.”
It’s necessary for Audi to use innovative production procedures mainly due to the amount of personalization its customers now have when ordering a new car, resulting in “enormous increases in the complexity of the production processes.” Technologies like its ‘Window to the World’ augmented‑reality system, which virtually projects 3D components onto the car so the worker knows where they belong, help to streamline the complicated production order.
Other areas of Audi production highlighted by Encounter include its tooling division, which uses a 3D printer to produce complex metal parts. In another process, ‘intelligent tools’will distribute the exact high pressure forces needed to stamp a certain sheet‑metal part that is accurate to one hundredth of a millimeter.
Audi says its article, entitled ‘Smart Factory’, will also provide readers with a glimpse into the future of automobile manufacturing. The company believes ‘competence islands’ will be used in place of production lines, with drones transporting materials among them quickly and accurately in a self-piloting mode.