Volkswagen presents its mobile charging robot prototypes
As part of the company’s visionary charging concepts and its hopes to expand its charging infrastructure in the next five years, Volkswagen has provided a glimpse of its latest mobile charging robot prototypes.
The ambitions for the prototypes is to provide fully autonomous charging in restricted parking areas for vehicles. “A ubiquitous charging infrastructure is and remains a key factor in the success of electric mobility. Our charging robot is just one of several approaches, but is undoubtedly one of the most visionary,” commented Thomas Schmall, Volkswagen Group Components’ CEO.
The latest information on the mobile charging robot prototypes
Started via an app or Car-to-X communications, the charging robot is fully autonomous, independently steering the vehicles to be charged. “ from opening the charging socket flap to connecting the plug and decoupling it, the entire charging process takes place without any human involvement whatsoever,” stated Volkswagen.
In order to charge multiple vehicles at a time, the robot moves what is being described as a ‘mobile energy storage unit’ to the vehicles, in order to connect them up and begin charging the electric vehicle battery.
Once the service is completed the robot collects the ‘mobile energy storage unit to take back to the central charging station.
“Setting up an efficient charging infrastructure for the future is a central task that challenges the entire sector. We are developing solutions to help avoid costly stand-alone measures. The mobile charging robot and our flexible quick-charging station are just two of these solutions,” added Schmall.
With plans to launch the flexible and quick charging station in early 2021, Volkswagen is currently working on a complete DC charging family.
For several weeks the company has been trialling the DC wallbox at different German production sites, and has successfully reached prototype status, with plans to further develop.
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.