ŠKODA AUTO harnessing smart manufacturing technology
In an announcement made by ŠKODA AUTO, the automotive manufacturer reported the opening of its new Mladá Boleslav centre that will harness state-of-the-art technologies to build test vehicles and prototypes. Technologies used by ŠKODA AUTO include robot stations and virtual reality solutions throughout the entire production process.
“The use of test cars allows us to draw conclusions about numerous technical parameters at an early stage of development and make the necessary adjustments long before serial production of a new model commences. We are now taking the next step. In future, we will build 300 test vehicles and 120 prototypes per year with maximum efficiency under one roof in our new, state-of-the-art facility at the Mladá Boleslav site. We have created the ideal conditions here to develop vehicles at the highest level and that will shape the future of our brand,” commented Johannes Neft, .
The new centre expands on ŠKODA AUTO’s efforts to meet the requirements for the increasingly complex and powerful electronic architecture of modern vehicles, focusing on functional tests of electrics, electronics and assistance systems, as well as on communication between in-car computers
“Our new facility has three floors and houses the parts warehouse, body shop, final assembly and paint shop, all within the smallest of footprints ensuring short distances. At the same time, the facility’s high degree of automation allows for more agile processes and a significant increase in production capacity for test vehicles and prototypes. Furthermore, the building features state-of-the-art virtual reality technologies as well as 168 workplaces in open-space offices and 13 meeting rooms. A large part of the complex – 14,000 m² – is used for vehicle manufacture,” added David Vaněk, Head of Model and Prototype Manufacture.
Features of ŠKODA AUTO’s new centre
- Two robot stations, increasing automation in the body shop from 15% to 45%, double the capacity to 10 car bodies a week, while taking up 20% less space
- An innovation centre for testing joining techniques, such as clinching, riveting, flow drill screw (FDS) fastening, laser welding and composite construction
- Virtual reality to allow for pre configuration and customisation of workstations
- State-of-the-art IT systems for logistics
Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers
With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.
While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.
“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.
“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”
Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.
“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.
Technology and People
While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.
“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.
Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.