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Virtual assembly technology at Audi’s smart factory

Audi shows off its smart factory technologies

Audi has been demonstrating its advanced manufacturing technologies, much of which went into building its newly opened smart factory in Mexico, where the automaker’s Q5 vehicle is being produced. 

Audi autonomous ground vehicle
Audi autonomous ground vehicle
Driverless floor conveyor
Driverless floor conveyor
audi smart factory Remote maintenance portal
Remote maintenance portal
audi Metal 3D printing center
Metal 3D printing center
collaborative robots
Collaborative robots
audi smart factory
Drone carrying steering wheel

Presenting the new technology in a sparse factory hall in Germany, Professor Hubert Waltl, Audi board member responsible for production and Logistics, says the company is undergoing a transformation brought about by computers and the Internet.

Waltl says: “You see, in the age of information technology, our products are changing. As an innovative brand, we are also changing our production processes – and thus the manner in which our products are built.”

He adds that the new Q5 is “the best example of how smart technology can make your Audi your personal assistant”.

Waltl says three current “megatrends” are informing the Audi strategy:

  1. digitalization – where Audi is looking for the best digital solutions for powerful, networked processes;
  2. sustainability – for which Audi is developing eco-friendly ideas for the entire value-added chain ; and
  3. urbanization – as a result of which the company is looking to harmoniously integrate automobile factories of the future into an urban space.

Within this strategy, Waltl says a number of specific technologies and processes have become fundamental for Audi. Among them are:

  • robots that work together hand-in-hand with employees;
  • metallic 3D printing, which allows reliable production ofcomplex geometries and extremely small radii;
  • automated and guided vehicle systems, which fully automate the movement of components, bodyshells and complete cars through Audi plants; and
  • a range of different data goggles, which are used, for example, in the planning of systems and are already helping in assembly.
Audi head of production and logistics Prof Hubert Waltl
Audi head of production and logistics Prof Hubert Waltl

Walt adds that networking is the key to this vision of a future when “3D printers and drones are standard equipment” for human employees who will “work naturally alongside robot colleagues”, producing cars for customers “tailor-made to their individual tastes”.