Logistics has gained further importance in recent years. The growing variety of models is increasing process complexity right along the value chain. Today, the Logistics department controls the entire supply-chain process, starting with order planning and through to delivery to the customer. Logistics is also involved in the process of product creation and plays an active and integrative role during the entire vehicle production phase. This ensures that product ramp-ups and market supply are punctual and flexible, with minimal throughput times and the smallest possible inventories. Logistics in Ingolstadt has initiated a pilot project, Truck Quick Check In, in order to keep up with constantly increasing flows of incoming goods. In the future, this system will control and prioritize the trucks delivering goods from suppliers to the plant in the same way as an air-traffic control tower. This will not only increase efficiency. The project is an ideal example for the networking of production and shows that the subject of the smart factory is already firmly anchored in the logistics function.
The New Logistics Concept is a project within the framework of the Audi Production System (APS) which gradually optimizes all processes as well as information and material flows from the suppliers to the assembly line, in accordance with the latest methods and technologies. The objectives are to enhance process quality, productivity and adherence to deadlines while reducing costs and throughput times. On the one hand, this leads to sustained improvements in production workflows and processes; on the other hand, it ensures optimal material flows from the suppliers into the plant and timely deliveries to the assembly line. The new logistics concept is accompanied by ergonomic improvements in workflows. In this way, the project contributes to a guiding principle of Audi’s production strategy: “People are at the center of the process.”
Logistics processes for automotive manufacturers are becoming increasingly complex due to the enormous variety of model versions and the creation of worldwide networks for production and procurement. Suitable approaches are required to manage these processes. One such solution entails consolidating material flows in industrial parks. Systems and modules are assembled outside the carmaker’s factory gates and delivered to the assembly line just in sequence. This is the approach adopted by the Logistics Center at Audi’s Ingolstadt site.
The Logistics Center, which opened in 1995, has two investors and owners: IFG Ingolstadt (a company fully owned by the city of Ingolstadt) and LGI GmbH (a joint subsidiary of IFG Ingolstadt and AUDI AG). The initial construction phase consisted of two buildings with total floor space of 30,000 square meters. Meanwhile, the Logistics Center occupies a site of 125 hectares, on which 15 buildings stand with floor space of 425,000 square meters. The 15th building, Hall T, was opened in summer 2014.
Environmental awareness, fast information flows and short transportation distances are the most important aspects of modern logistics. So the fact that the Logistics Center is located just outside the factory gates is no coincidence, but the result of traffic studies, and it also benefits the city of Ingolstadt. The main advantages of the Logistics Center for Audi are security of supply, the ability to deal with complex processes, and reduced logistical costs consisting of transport, packaging, inventory and IT costs. Besides reducing environmental pollution, for example due to fewer trucks needed to transport freight, the Logistics Center also boosts Ingolstadt’s economy and creates new jobs.
Module suppliers manufacture their products just in sequence in so-called assembly centers and are responsible for delivering them to the assembly lines. Materials are delivered directly to the assembly lines by electric tractors and trailers. These vehicles make the journey across the fully covered 415-meter bridge directly to the production area around the clock, approximately 2,500 times a day. 14 external suppliers and service providers currently supply Audi via the Logistics Center. They are primarily suppliers who manufacture highly varied, complex components and systems, and who place the highest requirements on their control systems.
The Logistics Center has two consolidation centers dealing with material handling for the Audi plants in Győr and Brussels and for CKD (completely knocked-down) packaging. A large new consolidation center was established at the Logistics Center in December 2010. On an area of 35 hectares and with a floor space of currently 103,000 square meters, assembly components previously stored temporarily in various areas inside and outside the plant are now handled centrally in this building. Halls J and K of the Logistics Center accommodate Audi Tradition, the Service Training Center for Audi’s customer service, and the Logistics Center hotel. The new Audi Media Service Center is in the immediate vicinity. Since October 2014, this building has accommodated the printing service, the post and office-material service, the central archive, media design and part of Audi Tradition.
Complexity is steadily increasing at the Ingolstadt site, along with logistical challenges. This is due to new generations of vehicles, additional models in the product portfolio, the high degree of customizability, and especially the ever-shorter transition periods. This is why Audi requires additional space near its plant and the Logistics Center’s new Hall T helps meet this need. Components will be sequenced there and assembled as needed to supply the assembly lines. A total of about 4,500 people currently work at the Logistics Center. The new Hall T thus contributes to job security and consolidates Audi’s position in the region.