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Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Shopfloor Reporting System

SRS connects data from the assembly lines to the cloud to identify bottlenecks in production

A walk through the assembly line at the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle plant in Hanover shows what production experts of most OEMs have been familiar with for a long time: Machines and operating technology have been added to the shop floor step by step to go with the latest available technology or increase productivity, and therefore originate from different suppliers, provide different data and dashboards. For the digitalization of production this means only one thing: a challenging diversity of data.

Volkswagen’s use case EpiK („Engpass-Identifikation im Karosseriebau”) is one approach to address this situation. EpiK connects data from the production line to the cloud to identify bottlenecks in production by consolidating the heterogeneous data sources for visualization and analytics into one single dashboard. With this use case Volkswagen has taken the first step into creating a new infrastructure and foundation for a data lake of production data. Read in this success story how Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle is unlocking the great potential of using the data from production plants.

Challenge – a heterogenous solution landscape and data diversity

Capacity utilization of production lines is a central goal in production and manufacturing, especially because process-related bottlenecks are particularly critical, as minor irregularities quickly affect the overall output. That is why it is an essential challenge in everyday business of production managers to find solutions for the identification, root cause investigation and avoidance of bottlenecks. Accordingly, there are many different solutions for bottleneck prevention, ranging from individual inhouse developments to solutions developed by technology providers. The source data and outputs from these solutions are in different formats, standards, protocols, structures, identifiers or even vary in their access and availability of data. 

The heterogeneity of the solutions and data types contrasts the tasks that led to them – the challenges are in fact similar on many shop floors, but in the rarest case a solution is scaled from one plant to another. Needless to mention, that this leads to a lack of utilization unrealized potentials. 

The importance of data for managing production efficiently and ensuring optimal flexibility cannot be overstated. Data objectifies decisions and thereby improves them. Volkswagen’s Industrial Cloud with its concepts and technological possibilities enables us to make significant progress in this field.

Jörg Heptner, Onboarding Manager at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles

Solution – standardizing, connecting and visualizing of production data with the cloud

In the production lines at the plant of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles in Hanover first steps are taken in the local infrastructure to counteract the data diversity and furthermore to make the solution scalable for other Volkswagen plants – all via the Digital Production Platform (DPP), Volkswagen’s basis for the Industrial Cloud.

The goal of the SRS use case is to connect, consolidate and visualize production data from heterogeneous data sources in a single dashboard. By this, bottlenecks in the production line can be identified before they occure to derive concrete measures to increase utilization and efficiency. At first, the team consisting of Volkswagen and AWS experts had to establish the local operations technology (OT) to IT connectivity. A basic service of the DPP was used here, which is called Base Connectivity Solution. It enables a secure, extensible, automated and developer-friendly connectivity between Volkswagens factory devices and data-sources as well as AWS services. Before consolidating the data in the cloud, it was necessary to implement an additional step in-between to establish a standardization of source data from the different technical solutions. Based on this, the use of generic AWS data analytics services as well as the standardized visualization on a uniform dashboard via the cloud was provided by a joint team from Hanover and Wolfsburg. 

Due to the foundation of functionality provided by the services, the first MVP has been realized within a relatively short period of time of about 90 working days. Now the user of the SRS application can independently navigate through the dashboard and select different filters to view details. By this, production experts can quickly and autonomously create or customize reports and evaluate them as needed.

Key benefits – unlocking the full potential of data from production lines

The simple access to knowledge about the current status of shop floor processes and devices opens up a wide range of possibilities from optimization of utilization, over prediction to building and scaling new solutions. In the future, decisions of production experts as well as management will be based on the experts’ experience and will be objectified by data. By this, improvement potential is identified more precisely and even faster, which speeds up the implementation of refinements. This not only improves efficiency, utilization and cost optimization, but also increases flexibility in production – a capability that is becoming increasingly important for production in the future and for being competitive in the market. Furthermore, the knowledge which can be derived from SRS will be the foundation for new solutions which can be exchanged and shared via the Industrial Cloud community.

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