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Volkswagen increases automation in its parts depot

Volkswagen says it has significantly increased the level of automation in its massive Kassel depot, in Germany.

The company says the upgrade has cost at least $10 million and involved designing its own “ergonomic repackaging stations”.

The vast majority of the depot is automated using conveyors, but new equipment and more digitalization has improved productivity, says Volkswagen. 

More than 90 million vehicles from all brands of the Volkswagen Group populate the roads in six of the seven continents, and 23,500 service centers and partners worldwide handle 300,000 workshop visits per day.

Volkswagen guarantees the supply of replacement parts for at least 15 years after production of a model has ended.

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In Europe, Volkswagen claims “no other manufacturer has such a close-knit service network”. And if needed, out-of-stock replacement parts can be delivered within 24 hours – “to almost any corner of the earth”.

At the heart of this unique logistics chain are 19 so-called master depots.

They receive direct deliveries of 1.63 million different parts from approximately 6,000 companies as well as factories in the Group and then, in turn, ensure that the 135 regional depots throughout the world are supplied with parts.

The undisputed number one of these master depots is in the middle of Germany.

In Kassel, around 460,000 replacement parts for vehicles and complete ranges of workshop equipment for service operations are permanently stored in a roofed area of one square kilometer.

Fifty percent of the value of the goods sold by the brands Volkswagen, Audi and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is handled by this depot alone.

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Almost 2,000 employees work in three shifts around the clock to ensure that supplies are delivered without a hitch.

The sea freight volume alone has grown by a good 50 percent over the last five years, which means that more and more parts are being removed from their cage pallets and repacked into overseas shipping containers to be shipped abroad.

At workshops, the employees developed ergonomic repacking stations and simultaneously significantly increased the degree of automation in the process.

The new machine, which cost €9 million, consists of a conveyor system of a total of 550 meters with 680 drive motors.

The investment was able to improve productivity by up to 40 percent – and also significantly shortened travel distances for the forklifts.

Claus Wriebe, head of Volkswagen’s Kassel depot, says: “The highlight of this new facility is that customers receive their order five days faster.

“There is no other facility like this worldwide.”