Renewal of the model range: At the Audi Neckarsulm location, new models dominated during 2017. After successful production ramp-ups of the Audi A8* and Audi A7 Sportback*, in the next step the plant will concentrate on the production start of the new Audi A6 derivatives. In 2017, the new body shop for the A6 and A7 models, as well as A8 production, became fully operational in a dual-purpose building. The plant perimeter had to be expanded to accommodate the halls. A special feature is the railway loading station beneath one of the halls. The parallel operations – in which the current model and the successor model are produced simultaneously on the same assembly line – requires especially flexible production planning of the volumes of current and successor models. Overall, in 2017, 193,016 automobiles were produced at the Neckarsulm site (excluding CKD).
Pearl chain principle: An example of efficient processes is the further developed pearl chain. Following this principle enables Audi Neckarsulm to better cope with the time spreads in assembly that are caused by large numbers of derivatives and equipment. An algorithm calculates the best sequence for every assembly line from 1.93 billion possibilities. In this way, six days prior to the relevant date, a precise and binding order sequence is defined – the pearl chain principle. The algorithm uses information on ordered cars while taking into account the resulting work for the employees in all work areas so that they can be utilized most effectively. Satisfied employees, higher quality and higher productivity are the measurable benefits.
Using data to optimize processes: An interdisciplinary project team within Audi Plant Logistics at the Neckarsulm site is exploring how to use data to further optimize the management of a plant. To do this, the logistics specialists at Audi use the largest possible data basis. The focus is on data from suppliers and forwarding agents, congestion information, as well as data from other business areas and the entire production value chain (press shop, body shop, paint shop and assembly). In this way, for example, by visually processing and analyzing large volumes of data we were able to reduce freight costs in one year by a six-digit sum.
The use of alternative drive systems in logistics transport demonstrates the capacity for innovation of the Neckarsulm site’s Logistics and Production Steering departments. Acting on the initiative of Audi experts, one forwarding agent now delivers their shipments using trucks powered by bio-methane. The biogas is obtained from waste and residual materials and allows for virtually climate-neutral operation. Instead of the usual diesel-fueled trucks, a tractor unit with electric drive as well as a CNG heavy-duty tractor unit are used for marshaling operations between the trailer yard and the plant site