Audi are continuing to keep one eye on the future as they develop their vision for a post-production-line era principle, modular assembly. They hope to use this approach to master growing complexity and diversity with greater flexibility and efficiency as the brand continue to take their models into the future.
In a large, light-flooded former textile factory in the north of Ingolstadt, a small start-up is being given assistance from the brand with the four rings as they attempt to set up the fundamentals of modular assembly. The 100-year-old model still used today means that an Audi leaves the assembly line every 30 seconds, but is that speed enough to sustain production in the modern era?
Fabian Rusitschka, one of the three managing partners of start-up company, Arculus, explains: ‘For decades, it was the best solution. But now this has to be rethought. We had originally sought a provider for our project to develop and build the equipment and their central control systems together, but we couldn’t find anyone able to do it, which is why we established Arculus – Audi’s first venture in this particular field.’
The freedom of modular production means that productivity benefits of at least 20% are achieved steadily. The rigid 90-second fixed interval time of the current process means that the line ends up running idle in many places, such as the installation of stationary heating, which only some cars have. Modular assembly solves these problems by introducing spatially distinct stations manned by only one or two people who deal with only one aspect of the production. It means the workers can get into a productive rhythm as well as being beneficial to the quality of the end result.