Volkswagen’s new generation of EVs will rely heavily on Siemens Automation Technology aiding flexible mass production
Siemens is constantly supporting Volkswagen to adopt more efficient digitization for further smoothening electric vehicle development. Volkswagen will increase this level of automation for body shop to a high 89 %, and final assembly by 28 %. Siemens has already delivered these products and systems for two production lines for Volkswagen. The reduction in complexity of development will boost quick turnaround times through the processes. This lines up with Volkswagen’s target of making nearly half a million electric vehicles by 2025, with mass market adoption as a priority. EVs are still in early stages of acceptance by the general populous, and these digital systems are the key to make these vehicles more feasible for everybody as end-to-end complications decrease.
Volkswagen will completely convert its Zwickau facility for the development of e-mobility. All systems have to be extensively digitized by the end of 2020 to meet the set deadlines by the company. As far as basic design goes, the Modular Electric-Drive Matrix (MEB) platform has a setup of a battery and two axles. Either one or both of these axles are electrically driven, which is why it is so flexible. Now the production plant for MEB is based on the 6th generation of Volkswagen Audi Seat Skoda (VASS) standard which comprises of automation solutions for hardware, software and visualization. This acts as a base system for mass production for dissimilar models on the same assembly lines. The system also includes all modules for application training and upskilling across the platform. Setting up and implementing strong digitization standards thus increases efficiency and speeding up processes stably.
As of now, the two body shop and final assembly lines have been digitized with series production underway. Now the second line standards are being realized for implementation, which is scheduled to be up and running by the year end. Siemens systems crucially work on both the lines. This also involves Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) Portal, Simatic controllers, HMI (Human Machine Interface) panels and industrial PCs. All these components are the critical elements resulting in the overall increase of automation in the body shop from 85-89 % and final assembly from 17-28 %. This digital integration also extends to the logistics field, like with the use of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) as an example.
By 2021, six models across three brands from the group are schedules to be produced at the Zwickau plant based on this versatile MEB platform. The notable ID.3 is the first of these electric vehicles to roll off the assembly. Bernd Mangler, Senior Vice President, Automotive Solutions, Siemens Digital Industries, mentions that this VASS system can further be scaled for production plans in Volkswagen’s other facilities. The increasing digitization promises numerous benefits from the ability to uniformly control the operating parameters of production machines, to seamless communication between them. The more the systems becomes smarter, the increase in production capabilities and reducing costs of electric vehicles becomes more viable.