Siemens is helping Volkswagen to equip its Zwickau vehicle plant for the production of electric cars. The company has already supplied products and systems for the two production lines and helped to develop an automation standard for the versatile mass production of a range of different models.
Thomas Zembok, head of factory automation and digital production at Volkswagen, said: “We want to increase the degree of automation in our production processes, while simultaneously reducing complexity.
"We’ve chosen to work with Siemens — our long-standing partner and one of the leading companies in industrial automation and digitalisation — because they have the necessary application expertise in this area.”
The Volkswagen brand expects to be building up to one and a half million electric cars a year by 2025. In order to enable this level of production, its Zwickau factory will be completely converted to e-mobility by the end of 2020.
The electric car is based on the MEB (Modular Electric-Drive Matrix) platform, comprising a battery and two axles (one or both of which are electrically driven, depending on the design).
The production plants for the MEB-platform models are based on the sixth generation of the VASS (Volkswagen Audi Seat Skoda) standard.
This includes automation solutions for hardware, software and visualisation, as well as material for application training and up-skilling.
The first of two lines for body shop and final assembly has already been implemented, and series production has started.
The second line is scheduled to go into operation later this year. Siemens technology is being used for both lines and includes the TIA (Totally Integrated Automation) Portal, Simatic controllers, HMI (Human Machine Interface) panels and industrial PCs.
This is one of the key drivers for the increase of automation in final assembly (from 17 to 28%) and in the body shop (from 85 to 89%).
Bernd Mangler, vice-president (automotive solutions) at Siemens Digital Industries (www.siemens.com
), said: “The great advantage of the VASS standard is that Volkswagen can also scale it according to the respective production plan in its other plants.
"This standard is an important step for Volks-wagen’s further digitalisation of production.
"It offers a number of benefits, such as the ability to uniformly control the operating parameters of production machines, as well as seamless communication between machines, with the ultimate goal to increase the speed and efficiency of production.”