Agile auto production gets a digital makeover

Global markets for cars are becoming increasingly competitive, forcing manufacturers to find cost savings while meeting greater demand for customisation. Advances in technology, known as 'Industry 4.0', make these seemingly contradictory demands possible. The EU-funded AutoPro project found a solution.

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Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 11 July 2019  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Industrial researchIndustrial processes & robotics
Research policyHorizon 2020
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Germany
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Agile auto production gets a digital makeover

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© 4kstocks #137026882, source: stock.adobe.com 2019

Industry’s struggle to drive down costs dates back to the rigid assembly lines needed to maximise efficiency, an approach made famous by US auto-makers in the early 1900s. By design, this approach did not handle ‘variety’ very well.

While variety is more feasible today – both practically and economically – it gets more difficult as products become more complex and integrated. Structural rigidity makes it hard to cope with product-model changes, product-mix variations and batch-size reductions.

Heavy, time-consuming investment is typically needed to streamline assembly systems after changes are made because the software governing these processes cannot ‘visualise’ complex scenarios.

The EU-funded AUTOPRO project found an ‘Industry 4.0’ solution to help the automotive industry keep up with increasing demand for customised cars. An integrated, highly visual software application is at the heart of their system, making work flows more flexible or ‘agile’, even while accommodating more variants in the production system, and at the same time boosting productivity by 30-60 %.

Real-time shadows?

Arculus, the German SME behind the project, built up experience providing integrated ICT solutions that provide what they call a ‘virtual real-time shadow’ of all the elements in the production. This provides a much clearer overview of how certain key performance indicators are affected when changes are made in one or more elements.

The modular solution can work for any sector with multiple and complex work flows, but it is in car manufacturing, which is highly dependent on new technological processes to remain competitive, that Arculus expects the most enthusiasm.

By customising the navigation control and adding an enhanced interface and automatic communication protocol, Arculus’ platform is better equipped to help auto-makers change production parameters faster and more efficiently.

Prospects for this innovative solution are strong. The 2020 forecast global market for advanced manufacturing technologies is around EUR 750 billion. EU targets to increase industry’s share of GDP to 20 % by 2020, with the auto sector a stated pillar of the economy, provide valuable impetus as well.

Project details

  • Project acronym: AUTOPRO
  • Participants: Germany (Coordinator)
  • Project N°: 782842
  • Total costs: € 71 429
  • EU contribution: € 50 000
  • Duration: August 2017 to December 2017

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