Digitalisation and Automation of Continental Automotive Plants
Holistic approach to digitalisation. You either digitalise or you don’t, there’s no doing it halfway. This should be THE approach to digitalisation, according to Tomáš Vondrák, Managing Director of Continental Automotive Czech Republic, who spoke at the Trends in Automotive Logistics Conference (TAL) on September 21st in Pilsen. We summed up Tomáš’s most inspiring points in this article.
The future of automotive
There is no doubt that the automotive industry is undergoing the most disruptive transformation ever. When choosing a car, customers care less and less about horsepower. Instead, they seek the ultimate user experience (UX) which is the driver (pun intended) of the customers’ decision-making process. There’s no other way than digitalisation to make sure that our customers get the perfect product on time.
Halfway is not the way
It’s one way or another. You either digitalise or you don’t. The bigger the production, the more valid this statement is. You cannot digitalise just some processes—that will not bring you any benefits. Tomáš compared digitalisation to a foundation, the basic layer of a manufacturing plant.
The why and how
Tomáš recommends approaching digitalisation holistically. He suggests:
- Ask yourself why and how you want to implement digitalisation.
- Review all the processes. Digitalisation will never work when based on inefficient processes; only an edited, most efficient process should be carried over to digital.
- Always bear in mind that there is no smart automation without standardisation.
Watch the entire presentation to hear more:
A valuable tip on automation
Smart Automation Projects are based primarily on digitalisation. Tomáš described how his team creates a digital twin before implementing a new process or a change in a process. A digital twin may help you optimise your processes without having to be nervous about the outcome of the implemented changes—you test the changes in the virtual environment first without needing to stop or slow down your real-life manufacturing process. If you want to review a process, you don’t have to literally stop the line— you simply pause the digital twin line to find out what is wrong.
Logistics and warehouse projects
What would you like to see when you come to a manufacturing plant? Most likely a seamless, uninterrupted flow, of people, of material. That’s why it’s so important to build the right infrastructure in logistics. To illustrate this, Tomáš spoke about one of his team’s achievements: He managed to decrease the size of a warehouse (from 5000 m2 to 3400 m2) while increasing its storing capacity four times! Tomáš achieved this thanks to Autostore Technology which made the warehouse fully automated and also the most efficiently used. Bins and boxes are stacked both horizontally and vertically, using every square metre of the warehouse.
Thanks to Autostore Technology, the warehouse is fully automated and also the most efficiently used.
After hearing Tomáš speak about fully automated warehouses, a question comes to mind: Will there even be people in logistics in the future? Tomáš predicts a shift in professions (we may need less line operators but more software engineers) but doesn’t expect humans not to be needed any more. Also, can you imagine line operators working from home? Tomáš already employs them!
Who is Tomáš Vondrák?
The Managing Director of the Czech-based branch of Continental Automotive. Tomáš runs an automotive plant in Brandýs nad Labem which was appointed the Model Plant for Digitalisation with the global responsibility to create, develop, implement, showcase and deploy digital factory framework. It is the biggest branch of the Continental Automotive family, with an employee-base of over 2600.