Using virtual reality glasses and controllers, employees from various departments at Audi’s Neckarsulm production site are able to test all assembly processes for the new e-tron GT.
The virtual reality software was developed in-house. 360° scans are a vital element of the technology. Production halls or complete buildings are scanned three-dimensionally using custom software and hardware. Audi is collaborating with a startup from Munich to create a virtual copy of the production facility.
The result is extremely precise, with measurements of a cycle – for instance of the cockpit installation on the R8 or the e-tron GT – accurate down to a few millimeters. On the basis of this data, production work can be carefully planned and everything else including cycles and equipment set up.
At the same time, the scan process generates a point cloud, which can be used to reconstruct the equipment and infrastructure virtually.
Employees can use the information to digitally update their layout and planning systems – saving time and money in the process.
This is the first time that workflows along the assembly line and the associated logistics processes will be tested 100% virtually in the ‘3P (production preparation process) workshops’. With the workshops, planners along with colleagues from logistics, assembly, pre-series center and quality assurance run through all the work steps and check the feasibility of processes. Questions such as, ‘Are all the steps ergonomically sound?’ and ‘Is the positioning of the tool trolley right?’ might arise. These tests used to be conducted in workshops on prototypes.
The 3P workshops project came about as the result of a collaboration between assembly planning in Neckarsulm, assembly planning in Ingolstadt and the Audi production lab (P-Lab). The P-Lab team developed the software in-house.
“The e-tron GT is the first vehicle in the VW Group to dispense with an actual prototype in the 3P workshops,” explained Markus Moinot, head of production planning processes in Neckarsulm.
Bernd Widdmann, head of assembly planning methods in Ingolstadt, added, “Digitization of the workshops was a logical step in developing the existing 3P method. With the virtual workshops we also facilitate good, highly effective collaboration of participants from various sites. At present, we are testing this between Ingolstadt and San José Chiapa in Mexico.”
Digitization has many other benefits, justifying potential application in areas across the VW Group, such as saving resources, thanks to fewer business trips.