Modular Assembly: Innovative assembly and logistics concept is about to be ready for serial production

Modular Assembly: Innovative assembly and logistics concept is about to be ready for serial production

26.07.2022: Flexible system without conveyor belt or fixed pace simplifies dealing with high product variance Integrated logistics and quality checks increase efficiency by about 20 percent Human-centric: work environment also designed to accommod

Flexible system without conveyor belt or fixed pace simplifies dealing with high product variance
Integrated logistics and quality checks increase efficiency by about 20 percent
Human-centric: work environment also designed to accommodate employees with disabilities

For more than a century, the conveyor belt has set the pace in automotive production. Now it is increasingly reaching its limits. Numerous derivatives and individualized possibilities are making vehicles more and more varied. Processes and components in assembly systems are increasingly variable. In a rigid, sequential process, that complexity is more and more difficult to master.

That is why Audi is introducing the world’s first modular assembly system in the automotive industry as a new and supplementary form of organization. Workers assemble components at “production islands” independently of cycle time. In addition, due to high component variability automated guided vehicles (AGVs) supply the stations with the necessary materials in accordance with the goods-to-person principle.

Growing complexity in products and demand are changing the requirements for production. It has to adapt with ever greater flexibility to specific customer needs, short-term market changes, and sustainability issues. It is increasingly difficult to map a conventional conveyor belt assembly onto this complexity. That way of doing things is based on a principle of uniform cycle time for each product at every workplace in a fixed sequence. By contrast, modular assembly works without a belt or a uniform pace of work.

In lieu of a rigid conveyor belt, dynamic procedures shift with a variable sequence of stations and variant-dependent processing times (virtual conveyor belt). In preparation for subsequent series application, Project Manager Wolfgang Kern’s team in Audi’s Production Lab is implementing that concept in interior door panel pre-assembly at the Ingolstadt plant.

“Modular assembly is one of our answers to future demands on production,” says Gerd Walker, Member of the Audi Board of Management for Production and Logistics.

“We’re using digital technology purposefully for the benefit of our employees, while achieving more flexible and efficient assembly,” Walker adds. “At the same time, this project is a prime example of our open innovation culture, where we are developing networked production in agile teams.” In the pilot project, experts are confirming feasibility, on one hand, and modular assembly’s potential, on the other, while simultaneously forging additional expertise.

One major advantage of the flexible system is that Audi can employ people who can no longer work on the line due to physical limitations. “We are able to adapt the working environment to their conditions, which is currently only possible to a very limited extent at the conveyor belt,” says Kern.

“We’re using more flexible automation in the production process in order to take the burden off people.” Thanks to the variant-dependent processing time instead of a uniform cycle all employees benefit from a lighter workload. This allows for ergonomic adaptation to individual needs.

Guidance Logic Ensures Flexibility

In test operation, tasks no longer follow a uniform sequence. Instead, they are structured to meet particular needs. Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) bring door panels right to the station where the components need to be assembled. For example, light packages are installed with cables and lighting elements at one station. Accordingly, jobs that don’t have a light package bypass that station.

At another station, a worker assembles the entire sun blind that is available for the rear doors as an option. Because of its predefined tempo, at the conveyor belt this task would have to be divided up between two or three workers, which is inefficient and can jeopardize quality. If jobs are piling up at one station, the AGVs drive the product to the next required station with the least possible amount of waiting time. In addition, the configuration of the workspaces is cyclically checked and adjusted.

“Compared with the way things are organized today, the flexibility with the underlying guidance logic is an essential advancement,” Kern emphasizes. Unlike a conveyor belt, the individual stations and modular production system are not designed for stable demand (optimal operating point). Instead, they can be operated efficiently within a particular spectrum (optimal operating range).



Logistics and Quality Processes Can Be Efficiently Integrated

Where component variability is high, the goods-to-person principle is the solution. For instance, AGVs bring the right kinds of cable harnesses for door panels to workers who then take the parts they need. The other identical parts go back to the stand-by position, because usually a different component variant will be needed for the next door panel. Providing sorted parts via AGVs makes upstream separation redundant.

The vehicles are localized down to the centimeter via a radio network. A central computer guides the AGVs. In addition, camera inspection can also be integrated into the quality process. Irregularities can be managed more quickly and easily this way than on a conveyor belt. This helps avoid unforeseen additional labor.

“We're combining the conveyor belt’s high degree of division of labor with a holistic eye toward lean principles and the new possibilities that cyber-physical production systems offer,” Kern explains.



Productivity Increase of About 20 Percent

The series pilot is producing valuable insights and allowing engineers to derive serial applications. “By reducing production time through an orientation toward value creation and self-steering, we are able to increase productivity by about 20 percent,” Kern says.

The next step for Project Manager Kern and his team is to integrate modular assembly at a larger scale into pre-assembly. That is where we find high variability and dynamics that can be handled more efficiently than is currently possible.

“De-linking the stations makes it possible to reschedule things without much effort,” says Kern. Thanks to the flexible hardware and automated guided vehicles, it is often the case that only the software needs to be adjusted. Stations can be adapted to products and demand more easily than on an interlinked conveyor belt.

Sabine Taner - photos Audi


26.07.2022 / MaP

More News

Smart Production: How Audi Is Designing the Production of the Future
   Cycle-independent modular assembly simplifies work with high product variability        Virtual inspection of surfaces serves as a digital interface between design, technical development, and production        Robot dog named Spot supports 3D scanning in production halls   more >> "Metaverse of the Year" launches first public land sale
- announces first official public land sale on Tuesday 26 July 2022- AIBC's 'Metaverse of the Year' – previously raised $5.8 Million in its seed and private round- OpenSea will host the land sale with a limited selection of tiles granting landowners early access to, plus membership of the exclusive '500club' more >>
Membrane mining: Sustainable extraction of high-tech metals
   Research: Audi Environmental Foundation promotes innovative mining approach        Underground: Microinvasive process and membrane technology protect the environment         more >>
Stellantis to Host Startup Awards July 13 to Introduce Key Technology Partnerships
  Stellantis N.V. announced today it will host the Stellantis Startup Awards on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, at 2:30 p.m. CEST / 8:30 a.m. EDT. The digital event will introduce seven key technology partners that will accelerate Stellantis’ transformation into a sustainable more >>
“Arena del Futuro” Demonstrates Capability of Dynamic Inductive Recharging Technology for Electric Vehicles
•    “Arena del Futuro” (“Arena of the Future”) circuit built by A35 Brebemi in collaboration with Stellantis and other partners field tests revolutionary dynamic induction electric charging for EVs•    Testing with Fiat New 500 shows that Dynamic Wireless Power Transfer (DWPT) simplifies the customer appr more >>
Lexus highlights safety innovation on World Bicycle Day - with video
    World-first Safe Exit Assist technology can prevent accidents caused by “dooring” – car doors being opened into the path of cyclists       Safe Exit Assist combines Blind Spo more >>
Lamborghini on World Bee Day - Technological innovations for the study of bees and CO2 analysis
On the occasion of World Bee Day on 20 May, the growing population of 600,000 Lamborghini bees is busy monitoring CO2 levels in the area surrounding the super sports car manufacturer’s Sant’Agata Bolognese headquarters. With 13 hives estab more >>
Next Generation of Energy-Saving Systems (ESS) Project is launching on Kickstarter!
•    The new development saves up to 20% on your energy bills and extends the life of your household appliances.  Valencia - A group of enthusiasts, interested in energy-saving solutions, announced that the world's first patented energ more >>
Porsche AG acquires stake in innovative producer of battery materials
Sports car manufacturer leads funding round at Group14 TechnologiesPorsche is forging ahead with its drive to develop and manufacture high-performance battery cells: the sports car manufacturer is acquiring shares in the US company Group14 Technologi more >>
How Hyundai is using the latest VR technology to transform car design
..and make it more sustainable    Hyundai has made significant investments in state-of-the-art virtual reality (VR) technology and infrastructure to transform its design process    Company stakeholders can now collab more >>
Stellantis Participates In U.S. Test of 5G Connected Vehicle Technologies for Real-time Safety Notifications
    5G Automotive Association tests in-vehicle and pedestrian real-time safety notifications using high-speed 5G cellular and multi-access edge computing technology    Stellantis was only automaker involved in Virginia trial; Jeep® Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid used for tests    Connected vehicle in more >>
Parkopedia and APCOA PARKING Group partner to enable digital parking services of the future
•    APCOA FLOW digital parking payment service joins Parkopedia’s in-car integrated payment platform solution for automakers•    Single sign-on functionality and ANPR technology will allow for seamless in-car, automated payments for drivers at an additional 1.5 million spaces across Europe• &nbs; more >>
New software generation 3.0 with additional innovative boost for the ID. family
Cloud-based and with swarm intelligence:Intelligent driver assistance systems as the “Travel Assist with Swarm Data” set new standards.  ID. Software 3.0 with latest driver assistance systems, greater charging capacity and voice c more >>
INNTQ announces ROCO, the world’s first interactive roller coaster experience
With its one-of-a-kind customized rides and a unique plug-and-play design, ROCO is built to delight riders and venue operators alike. more >>
Petal Maps Debuts at MWC 2022, Showcasing a Full-Scenario Ecosystem with Mapping Services as the Core
Huawei has unveiled Petal Maps, its latest map navigation system designed for global markets, at Mobile World Congress 2022 (MWC) in Barcelona. The solution leverages mobile phone hardware and intelligent algorithms to deliver a package of innovative mapping capabilities, including precise indoor and outdoor positioning, lane guidance, offline maps, 3D a more >>
AutoFlight’s Prosperity I Air Taxi Achieves Proof of Concept Transition Test Flight
    AutoFlight is one of the first eVTOL companies in the world to successfully achieve a transition flight for an eVTOL capable of carrying three passengers and a pilot    A ‘transition’ sees an aircraft move from a vertical to horizontal motion and is one of the most challenging parts of an eVTOL flight  more >>
Communication interface for automated guided vehicles
As a communication interface, VDA 5050 enables the integration of different automated guided vehicles in a common system and thus a building block for Industry 4.0.Coordination between automated guided vehicles (AGVs) more >>
SEAT CODE exports its mobility software Giravolta to six countries
    Giravolta already manages more than 3,200 vehicles (cars, motorbikes, bicycles and scooters) and more than 120,000 users    Since the beginning of the year, Bleeper's bikesharing service has been operating in Dublin thanks to the mobi more >>
Unique Aeronautical partnership inspired new rear win for Lexus LC Flagship Coupe
    Long-term Lexus collaboration with world champion air race pilot Yoshihide “Yoshi” Muroya enables exchange of automotive and aeronautical innovations    The unique partnership has already produced advances in aerodynamics and inspired a new rear carbon fibre wing for the LC Flagship Coupe    more >>
Hyundai Motor Group Recruiting Startups for 2022 ZER01NE Accelerator First Half Open Call
    Hyundai Motor Group invites startups to apply for 2022 first half innovation program to collaborate with Hyundai and Kia on future technologies    Startups can apply to one of 38 projects under seven different tech themes, including auto tech, in-car UX, charging, mobility services, smart logistics, smart construction, and materi more >>
BMW Group invests in innovative method for CO2-free steel production
BMW Group plans to source steel produced with green power and hydrogen from northern Sweden    New agreement with Salzgitter AG provides for delivery of low-carbon steel from 2026    BMW Group expands sourcing of more >>
DuPont Personal Protection Announces Launch of Thermo-Hand™ Technical Evaluation Unit
One-of-a-kind demonstration tool aids in evaluation of thermal hand protection performance   DuPont (NYSE:DD) today announced the launch of Thermo-Hand™, the latest burn evaluation unit created to demonstrate the heat and flame more >>
SKODA AUTO uses seat covers made from recycled PET bottles
- ŠKODA AUTO consistently focuses on sustainability along the entire value chain- Car manufacturer works with suppliers and the scientific community on innovative materials which are then used in series production- Video reveals how the seat covers for the ENYAQ iV are made from wool and recycled disposable bottles  more >>
3D sketching: a digital touch to every drawing
  As is the case with film, video games, and landscape mapping, the past few decades has seen the automotive industry incorporate more technological advancements in 3D modelling to bring its projects to life. Nowadays, before a car can be sent to the production line, it must first more >>
Introduction The World's first electric flying racing car pilots - with video
•    After historic first drag-race, Airspeeder announces first 3 pilots   •    Competitors drawn from backgrounds as broad as elite motor racing and drone flying more >>
REE commences trials of all-new electric P7 modular platform for delivery fleets
    The new P7 platform is based on specifications from one of world’s largest delivery companies       First prototypes will be available for customer evaluation in Q1 2022 with trials to take plac more >>
Amazon and Stellantis Collaborate to Introduce Customer-Centric Connected Experiences Across Millions of Vehicles
... Helping Accelerate Stellantis’ Software Transformation Amazon and Stellantis will collaborate to deliver software solutions for Stellantis’ new digital cabin platform, STLA SmartCockpit, starting in 2024 more >>
Goodyear extends airless tire technology to autonomous starship robots
Today, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company announced it has developed and is testing a custom-engineered non-pneumatic (airless) tire (NPT) to support Starship delivery robots.   Starship Technologies, a Goodyear Ventures portfolio com more >>
WirelessCar Announces Global Launch of Smart EV Routing at CES 2022
WirelessCar, a global leader in transformative digital vehicle services for connected cars, today announced the global launch of Smart EV Routing, a dynamic digital product that enables drivers of electric vehicles (EVs) to optimize their long-distance journeys. Wir more >>
Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Outlines Direction for 2022 in Metaverse New Year Address
    Executive Chair Euisun Chung outlined the Group’s direction for 2022 and key future business targets through the New Year Address delivered in the metaverse to employees    The Group to continue making progress towards becoming global top-tier eco-friendly brands by working towards carbon neutrality with a focus on electrif more >>
SEAT Innovation: the motor of transformation
Innovation, disruption, and transformation.       Laura Vidal, head of Innovation and Social Collaboration in Human Resources at SEAT S.A., and Victoria Gago, co-founder of the European Blockchain Convention & Tech more >>
Zain Bahrain Selects Tecnotree for Digital Transformation
Tecnotree, a global provider of Digital Business Support Systems (BSS), has been selected by Zain Bahrain, a telecommunications industry innovator in the Kingdom, for the delivery of digital BSS transformation. Zain aims to become a leading ICT and dig more >>
TBSI developed a multi-dimensional intuitive human-machine interface for smart gloves based on triboelectric nanogenerator sensors
Hongyan Fu's group and Wenbo Ding's group at Tsinghua-Berkeley Shenzhen Institute, Tsinghua University Shenzhen International Graduate School, have made important achievements in the research of novel HMI. The more >>
Ford Bronco Sport Becomes First Vehicle to Feature Parts Made of 100% Recycled Ocean Plastic
    Ford adds to its legacy of using sustainable materials in its vehicles and becomes the first automaker to use 100% recycled ocean plastics to produce car parts; wiring harness clips in Ford Bronco Sport are the first of many the company plans to produce using discarded plastic fishing nets    Ocean plastic is collected by workers more >>
Chemical researchers invent bio-petroleum for sustainable materials
Led by CSP Investigators Michelle Chang and Paul Dauenhauer, researchers have developed a two-step pathway to produce petroleum-like liquids from renewable materials, such as glucose.The hybrid approach more >>
SYNETIQ announces industry-leading 96.3% vehicle recycling figure
    SYNETIQ steps-up the fight against waste with new standards of operational excellence    The UK’s leading integrated vehicle salvage, dismantling and recycling company now recycles more of each vehicle than ever before    New Carbon Literacy toolkit has also been launched in partnership with leadi more >>
Tata Communications GlobalRapide powers enterprises with intelligent, automated, cloud- first unified communications
- A single partner to drive end-to-end UCaaS business needs Tata Communications, a global digital ecosystem enabler, today announces the launch of Tata Communications GlobalRapide, an end-to-end managed uni more >>
Delta is Partner of Webasto Following Development of Thermal Management Solution for Automotive Roof Sensor Modules
Delta, a global leader in power and thermal management solutions, today announced is partner by Webasto, the world’s leader in automotive roof solutions. With this partnership, Webasto leveraged Delta’s expertise in active and passive thermal management more >>
His Royal Highness the Crown Prince announces the establishment of the first non-profit city in the world
His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Mohammed bin Salman Misk Foundation, today announced the launch of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Non Profit City, the first non-profit city in the world, to be a model for the development of the non-profit sector globally and an incubator for youth and volunteer groups as well as more >>
2001-2023 copyright