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 suppliers parts 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.
Another new development in logistics at Audi is the networked and self-controlled transport of parts and vehicles. Audi is the world’s first automobile manufacturer to combine in a pilot project the traditional storage method in a parts supermarket with the driverless transport system. With this new way of commissioning, the parts are automatically retrieved and transported to a fixed picking station. The employees no longer have to leave their workplace. This goods-to person concept based on the driverless transport system is a new milestone in the smart factory and significantly improves ergonomics in the area of production. A driverless transport system is also used for loading the cars: “Ray” is a parking robot that picks up the new cars at a transfer station and takes them to a predetermined place in the process house. When it is then time to load them onto the train, “Ray” picks them up again there. This allows logistics to work faster and more effectively, and also makes the employees’ work easier.
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 (323,000 square feet). Meanwhile, the Logistics Center occupies a site of 125 hectares (309 acres), on which 15 buildings stand with floor space of 450,000 square meters (4.8 million square feet). At present, a total of approximately 4,500 people are employed at the Logistics center. In October 2015, construction work started for the new Hall B, which will have two floors. This will create a further 26,000 square meters (280,000 square feet) of hall space, which is intended for shared use by production and the related logistics.
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 (1,360-foot) bridge directly to the production area around the clock, approximately 2,500 times a day. Twelve 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 a consolidation center for CKD (completely knocked-down) packaging. On an area of 35 hectares (86 acres) and with a floor space of currently 103,000 square meters (1.1 million square feet), 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. This building accommodates the printing service, office logistics, 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 where parts for supplying the assembly process are sequenced and compiled as required, as in Logistics Center Hall T and in the future also in Hall B.