We tend to imagine automotive factories like big, open buildings were robots simply assemble cars from pre-prepared parts. However, modern factories are big complexes of buildings, stations and warehouses. In fact, so big, that trains are used for transportation.
Since such locomotives produce CO2 and have to be improved in order to make the production process more efficient and environmentally friendly. Now German car brand Audi replaced its older locomotives with a plug in hybrid one.
There is a vision that someday main Audi plant in Ingolstadt will someday become a CO2‑neutral factory, which means that all parts in the production have to be optimized. There were numerous innovations applied already, but plug in hybrid locomotive is a really impressive advancement towards the ultimate goal.
This locomotive, wearing famous four-ring badge, is manufactured by Alstom. It is a 1,000 horsepower machine, which will deliver components and finished Audi models in a more climate friendly way. It will become part of massive delivery system that works between Audi sites.
As mentioned before, we tend to underestimate efforts put into effective work of the automotive factories. Who would have thought there are 18 kilometres of railways in the Audi plant in Ingolstadt? And the network is rather busy as every day 15 goods trains arrive at Ingolstadt North railway station for Audi.
They carry quite a precious cargo – various pressed parts, engines and transmissions, as well as cars from other Audi sites that are ready for delivery to customers. Furthermore, those cars that are assembled in Ingolstadt plant also leave the site by railways. Plant itself has 17 locomotive drivers, whose task is to allocate the wagons to the various plant buildings.
Each of locomotives in the plant carries out up to 75 shunting manoeuvres every day and operates for an average of 3,800 hours each year. This is why new, environmentally friendly locomotive is such a big improvement. Johann Schmid, head of the Audi plant railway in Ingolstadt, described the new locomotive: “goal is all‑round sustainable logistics. The new railway technology allows more economical, energy‑efficient and low‑emission rail transport. In connection with the latest chassis technology, the plug‑in‑hybrid locomotive sets new standards in shunting and rail transport”.
The new plug-in hybrid locomotive is able to run completely emission-free inside the plant buildings and can even operate for up to two hours at a time in purely electric mode. It is a plug-in hybrid system that drives this locomotive. It has to be charged from time to time during breaks, for which purpose Audi uses electricity produced in an environmentally-friendly way (CO2‑free).
While in motion electric power, when possible, is supported by a diesel engine. As well as being a lot more efficient and environmentally friendly, this hybrid locomotive is also a lot quieter. Its CO2 emissions are two times lower than those of conventional locomotives at the plant. This equates to 60 tons less CO2 emitted each year, which is a significant step forward in order to make entire manufacturing process as environmentally friendly as possible.
Audi is always implementing new innovative solutions to its main plants. Whether it is new assembly line robots, ergonomics for employees or improvements in the delivery system, Audi seems to be on top of automotive industry innovations. Efficiency is a major goal nowadays, which is why we may expect similar innovations to come more and more often.