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AUDI implements driverless transport system in its commissioning process

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Posted December 24, 2015

Just by looking at the news from German executive car manufacturer AUDI, it seems as if company is much more concerned about efficiency of its manufacturing process and ergonomics in the workplace than its competitors.

Driverless carries go under the shelves, lift them and transport them autonomously to the central picking station. They also take care of charging themselves and do not drive in the same areas where people work. Image courtesy of audi-mediacenter.com.

Driverless carries go under the shelves, lift them and transport them autonomously to the central picking station. They also take care of charging themselves and do not drive in the same areas where people work. Image courtesy of audi-mediacenter.com.

Now company optimized the logistics in its assembly chain – employees will no longer have to go and fetch the required parts from the material shelves. Instead, they will come to them fully automatically. Currently AUDI is testing the system with the commissioning of driver’s manuals at the Audi plant in Ingolstadt.

The concept is described as the “supermarket of the future”, because the system knows when and which parts the commissioners need and provides them with exactly the right goods at the right time.

Axel Bley, Head of Logistics Concept Development, said: “Autonomous goods conveyance is another pioneering development towards the factory of the future. By means of intelligent connectivity, we achieve additional efficiency and flexibility, while easing the work of our employees”. This approach can be seen in all AUDI projects in the assembly line – comfort of the workers and efficiency are the top priorities.

Goods are delivered by the driverless transport systems that drive under the shelves, lift them up and transport them automatically to a central picking station. Not only this saves time and eases the work for employees of AUDI, it also saves up the storage space since shelves can be stacked closer together.

There is also a fleet-management system making sure goods arrive precisely on time. Four seconds is all what is required for the shelf change at the picking station, which means that workers never have to wait for the needed parts. The driverless carries get their orders by wi-fi and navigate using QR codes on the floor. And is very safe, since it is moving in a separate area from the workers.

This system eliminates main drawbacks of the commissioner’s work place – there is no need to walk long distances and push heavy carts. System is also very flexible – in the future more shelves can be added, routes can be changed and so on. Each of the driverless carries has eight rechargeable batteries with a running time of approximately seven hours. However, human intervention is not even needed here – they automatically go to the charging station when needed and return to work after two hours of charging. They can carry up to 600 kg. of weight at the speeds of up to 3.6 kilometres per hour.

Although now this system is only used in commissioning of AUDI A3 manuals, soon it will be expanded and improved. It just goes to show once again how important innovation and ergonomics in its factories it is for AUDI.

Source: Audi

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