Volkswagen Slovakia is the largest car manufacturer in Slovakia. Its car factory in Bratislava is the only automotive facility in the world producing five different car brands within a single factory in sizes coming from the compact cars to luxury SUV’s (Volkswagen Touareg, Audi Q7, Audi Q8, Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen up!, Volkswagen e-up!, ŠKODA Citigo, SEAT Mii). Total production reached 361,776 cars in 2017.
The factory in Bratislava is one of the most innovative and advanced automotive factories of the Volkswagen Group in the field of automation of internal logistics. CEIT, a company from the Asseco Group, is a proud partner of the plant as the supplier of autonomous robotic systems (currently more than 300 CEIT autonomous tractors operating in the plant in Bratislava).
The unique CEIT logistics system consists of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) of various types, interchanges, dynamic and static conveyors and monitoring workplaces. It also includes a control system using elements of artificial intelligence which is capable of autonomous flexible decision-making and control of transport, based on peripherals status, requirements from external devices and systems as well as the current situation in the plant.
The successful cooperation between Volkswagen Slovakia and CEIT meant that they did not want to stop with the logistics automation alone. Their shared intention was to move further, to improve the process by implementing smart solutions within Industry 4.0. Therefore, in 2017 the implementation of CEIT Digital Twin together with the Sewio Indoor Positioning System began.
The main objective of the CEIT project was to digitize the entire fleet within one of the plant’s halls and introduce precise location of intralogistics, including CEIT AGVs and forklift tracking. An important part of it was also to ensure full visibility and verifiability of the whole process, as well as obtaining very detailed information on individual objects.
The challenges which accompanied the implementation of the project resulted to a large extent from the specificity of the production hall. As much as 30% of the whole tracked area represented a completely variable warehouse that could turn from a completely empty area to being fully blocked within a timeframe of just a few hours. Given the number of moving objects, both manually and automatically driven, the system had to be able to cope with high traffic density, its peaks and occurrences of multiple objects within close proximity of each other.
The implementation of the solution, which was completed within 6 months, provided Volkswagen Slovakia with a real-time overview of all movements within the hall. Owing to the implementation, the plant in Bratislava has gained an efficient tool enabling a precise analysis of each machine in the fleet in terms of operational time, down and idle time, distance travelled and efficiency. In turn, the heat maps and spaghetti diagrams help visualize the flow and reveal the traffic density, actual path for each machine at a given time and where and at what time the biggest bottlenecks occur.
The delivered indoor positioning system covers the hall and its warehouse with a total area of 10,000 m² with hundreds of shelves, tracking 70 objects – both automatically navigated AGVs and manually driven forklifts. The system works with 50 cm accuracy and a refresh rate of 333 milliseconds.
Thanks to the implementation of the project Volkswagen Slovakia has gained the following benefits:
- real-time visibility to verify current processes,
- the overall operation time of the fleet and its objects,
- the possibility to compare the ratios of run/stop time, distance travelled and loaded/unloaded trips to optimize fleet utilization,
- an immediate visual summary of the movement within a time period,
- information on traffic density and its bottlenecks to optimize fleet movement,
- the ability to select and reply path of any of the moving object at a selected time in the past to uncover driving into any restricted zones or get the context of the situation that preceded the incident to prevent it in the future,
- the simulation of proposed process updates in a real model and time frame,
- navigation of drivers so they know where to go and what is the closest path without obstacles.