Sascha Tittelwitz, Project Lead “Porsche Production 4.0” at Porsche, describes how they are developing their Factory of the Future in an era of disruption.
The automotive industry faces unprecedented change on several fronts at once: vehicle electrification, connected cars, shared mobility, and autonomous driving. As Porsche Digital CCO Stefan Zerweck just recently said: The automotive industry will change more in the next five years than within the previous 50 years.
The rapid advancement of new technologies such as cloud-based networks, artificial intelligence, and smart automation is taking the automotive world by storm, revolutionising not only the way we drive but also how we will build cars. And things are obvious that this change arrived at Porsche: We’re launching our first fully electric sports car this year and aim to deliver half of all Porsche models with an electric drive by 2025.
What does that mean for the automobile industry, especially the production? For one, the shift towards electrification and self-driving vehicles requires a major restructuring and optimisation of production processes and entire process chains. For the other, this seismic shift is part of a larger trend towards an industrial transformation that has been accelerating in recent years.
Mastering Complexity: Why Porsche Turns to Industry 4.0
Modern manufacturing is an increasingly complex, digitalised and automated industry that depends heavily on machines and the application of advanced technologies. Terms such as the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Industry 4.0 have gained currency to describe the trend toward increasing connectivity, automation, and artificial intelligence. These developments are highly relevant to the manufacturing portion of the automotive sector.
As Project Manager for Production 4.0 at Porsche, it’s my job to coordinate and enable projects that make workflows more efficient and increase the flexibility of our factories. To this end, I work on product innovations, establish benchmark solutions and (implement) new IT applications. But the job doesn’t stop there. My aim is to shape an intelligent factory, one that enables high-quality and resource-efficient production of our new sports cars.
Our vision: Smart, Lean, and Green
Porsche is currently undergoing a process of major change. But we have a clear strategic plan for what we want to achieve in the midst of all the challenges. An integral part of this agenda is what we call “Porsche Production 4.0,” which is divided into three fields: digitally integrated production, production work, and production technologies.
Our overall vision is an intelligent, efficient and sustainable production facility in which
machines and systems communicate in real-time with each other
digital solutions and new production technologies empower our teams and
the environmental impact is reduced to zero.
Welcome to the Factory of Tomorrow
At Porsche, we are shaping the production of tomorrow. And we have been doing so for a long time: With the electronic vehicle routing cards (eWBK) and the Porsche Manufacturing and Inspection System (PFPS), we have already set standards in the digitisation of the production before the term industry 4.0 was created. We create intelligent and networked solutions. We develop efficient processes and methods. We focus on sustainable production. Our new production facilities are smart, lean and green.
Smart: Technology at the heart of our production facilities
Data consistency is the core of intelligent and networked production. Starting with the customer’s order and ending with the finished product. The key to smart solutions is process transparency which is achieved through data consistency. There are various ways in which smart technologies are being used. The Business Intelligence platform enables interactive reporting within production. In the future the cloud-based architecture of the digital production platform allows the easy implementation of microservices on a large scale, reducing development and implementation effort.
Lean: Porsche is the first OEM to use automated guided vehicles (AGVs) in continuous flow
Efficient factory planning depends on digital solutions. It is, therefore, crucial to not only improve existing methods and processes but to identify and develop innovative concepts and technologies. For the Taycan production, Porsche is the car manufacturer to use AGVs in the final assembly in a continuous flow. This enables us to combine the advantages of the traditional principle of continuous production with the flexibility offered by the versatile assembly. It also increases the number of work cycles using the same amount of space. This enhanced degree of flexibility allows us to respond to customer desires even more quickly. At the same time, it requires less investment compared to a conventional skillet conveyor system. In addition to that, the automatic rotary hangers improve workplace ergonomics by avoiding overhead work and improving accessibility.
Green: A carbon-neutral production in Zuffenhausen
Our commitment to sustainability is anchored in our production strategy. One of the main concerns of production 4.0 is to save energy, reduce waste and minimise the effects on the environment. Producing the Taycan will be completely carbon-neutral. Production facilities run on green electricity. Our logistics will be green, too. The first trucks are powered by electricity.
Sascha Tittelwitz is Project Lead “Porsche Production 4.0” at Porsche
Finally, the human factor is the most important one. Putting people first is at the heart of production 4.0. Digitalisation and new technologies support our employees to master complexity. Tomorrow still, it’s going to be people that build our sports cars – for people. The factory of the future will not be deserted: At Porsche, we believe in the special skills and capabilities of people, implying that they cannot be replaced in many areas. As a very wise man once said: “One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.“ (Elbert Hubbard).