High level of product diversity: Neckarsulm is one of the sites with the largest product diversity of all the Group’s plants. After successful production ramp-ups of the Audi A4, Audi A5 Cabriolet and Audi R8 Spyder, in the next step the plant will concentrate on the production start of the new Audi A8, Audi A7 and Audi A6 models. This is evidenced by the structuring measures that are intended to strategically prepare the plant for future challenges and technologies. In 2016, the new partial assembly and body manufacture areas for the Audi A8 went into operation. In order to extend the production floor area, Audi shifted the plant boundary to incorporate the area of the former building yard. High-tech and ergonomic innovations mean that production is highly efficient and flexible. Overall, in 2016 Audi produced 260,603 automobiles at the Neckarsulm site (excluding CKD).
Lean and digital: In recognition of the safe and efficient processes at the plant, the production experts at Audi in Neckarsulm were presented with the Automotive Lean Production Award in the category OEM by trade publication “Automobil Produktion” and the management consultants Agamus Consult. As well as complying with the standards of the Audi Production System across the entire manufacturing process chain, the site is developing the system into an holistic corporate system. In doing so, lean principles of the Audi production system and the opportunities presented by digitalization are ideally combined. Big data and the lucrative networking of data are the key factors.
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