In September 2020, Automation World reported on Volkswagen’s Industrial Cloud initiative to digitalize its production and logistics operations. The Industrial Cloud is an IT industrial platform, designed to gather and analyze data from all connected Volkswagen Group facilities on a real-time basis to help increase efficiency and productivity. The scope of this project is planned to reach across Volkswagen’s global supply chain, including more than 30,000 locations of its more than 1,500 suppliers and partner companies.
A key facet of this project is its focus on the development of apps, available in a private company “app store” that can be accessed by all VW plants for downloading and implementation in production and logistics operations. Essentially, this initiative is a way to streamline best practice adoption across all of VW’s global plants, as well as streamline technology development with its partners.
Since this initial report about Volkswagen’s Industrial Cloud initiative, the company has announced plans to connect its plants in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Puebla and Silao, Mexico, to this project. These plants would be the first plants outside Europe to be networked to the Industrial Cloud.
The Volkswagen Group has already networked 18 European plants with the Industrial Cloud. The three Volkswagen locations in North America are expected to be connected by the end of 2021. The Chattanooga site produces the Volkswagen Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport SUVs, the Volkswagen Passat sedan, and will be the central hub for the production of electric vehicles in North America; Puebla manufactures the Tiguan, Jetta and upcoming Taos SUV. The Silao plant produces engines for Volkswagen and Audi models.
“This is a big and critical step for our digital transformation as we work to apply the knowledge gained from one of the largest vehicle production networks in the world to our facilities in the U.S. and Mexico”, said Johan de Nysschen, COO, Volkswagen Group of America. “We want to manufacture vehicles even more efficiently and sustainably, and the Industrial Cloud helps us do that.”
Currently, available applications connected to the Industrial Cloud focus on predictive maintenance of machines and systems. At the Chattanooga plant, the use of a shop floor reporting system is being tested, which is expected to enable the factory to increase machine utilization by recognizing potential disturbance variables before they occur.
"We want to leverage the potential of digital technology in production and work closely with our colleagues on the shop floor," said Susanne Lehmann, senior director production NAR, Volkswagen de México, and responsible for onboarding the North American plants. “By bringing the individual know-how of the locations into our Industrial Cloud Initiative, we can optimize their production processes and, at the same time, expand the scope of high-performance applications available for all factories more quickly.”