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Siemens supplying automation for electric car production at Volkswagen plant


Volkswagen's first new generation electric car being built with Siemens automation technology. Photo: SiemensVolkswagen's electric car at the Zwickau plant. Photo: Siemens

Siemens is supplying the automation technology for production of electric vehicles at Volkswagen’s Zwickau plant.

The company has already supplied products and systems for the plant’s two production lines and helped to create an automation standard for the versatile mass production of a range of different vehicle models.

“We want to increase the degree of automation in our production processes while simultaneously reducing complexity,” says Thomas Zembok, head of factory automation and digital production at the Volkswagen AG company. He says Volkswagen chose Siemens for its “application expertise in this area.”

Volkswagen plans to scale up production to 1.5 million electric cars per year year by 2025.

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In order to enable this level of mass production, its Zwickau factory will be completely converted to e-mobility and extensively digitized by the end of 2020.

The electric car is based on the MEB platform (Modular Electric-Drive matrix), comprising a battery and two axles, one or both of which are electrically driven, depending on the design.

The VASS standard

The production plants for the MEB-platform models are based on the sixth generation of the VASS (Volkswagen Audi Seat Skoda) standard. The VASS standard includes automation solutions for hardware, software and visualization, as well as material for application training and upskilling.

“With the VASS standard, we offer a building block system for stable production and facilitate mass production of different models on the same line,” says Zembok. “At the same time, we are creating a consistent basis for further digitalization of the production processes.”

The first of two lines for body shop and final assembly has already been implemented.

Together with Volkswagen, Siemens is developing a standard for the upcoming Volkswagen electric car generation. Photo: Siemens

Together with Volkswagen, Siemens is developing a standard for the upcoming Volkswagen electric car generation. Photo: Siemens

Series production underway

Series production started in November, with the ID.3 being the first of the new generation of electric cars to roll off the line. The second line is currently being constructed and is scheduled begin operations in the fall of 2020.

Siemens technology is being used for both lines and includes the TIA (Totally Integrated Automation) Portal, Simatic controllers, HMI panels and industrial PCs. Automation in the final assembly will increase from 17 to 28 per cent and in the body shop from 85 to 89 per cent.

“The great advantage of the VASS standard is that Volkswagen can also scale it according to the respective production plan in its other plants,” says Bernd Mangler, senior vice-president of automotive solutions at Siemens Digital Industries.

“The new VASS standard is an important step for Volkswagen’s further digitalization of production. It offers a number of benefits, such as the ability to uniformly control the operating parameters of production machines, as well as the seamless communication between machines, with the ultimate goal to increase the productivity and efficiency in production.”