Audi has introduced a logistics system in which automated guided vehicles (AGV) move containers with parts one after the other to manned picking stations on the assembly line. According to the automaker, the Supermarket 2.0 system reverses the goods-to-person process, rather than the traditional arrangement of employees going to containers of parts to pick them one by one for assembly. It is used in the Audi plant in Ingolstadt (Germany) and in the FAW-Volkswagen joint venture plant in Foshan (China).
According to Audi, such a system is being used on a large scale for the first time, but the principle has been used on a small scale since 2015. Not only does it allow the use of different AGVs in the same area, but it also reduces storage space by around 25% in the future, the automaker said.
The AGVs can transport material weighing up to a ton and move at a speed of 1.5 m / s. They roll under the parts bins and transport them in the correct order to a fixed picking station. At each station, a logistics employee prepares the components required on the production line.
There are currently eight AGVs in use in the 2.0 supermarket in Ingolstadt, but Audi said the number will increase to 32 by the end of the year. The AGVs were developed by Audi and the technology start-up arculus and are controlled centrally with Audi’s in-house fleet manager software (Audi Fleet Manager).
“With Supermarket 2.0 and Audi Fleet Manager we are setting an important milestone on the way to the smart logistics of the future,” says Peter Kössler, Board Member for Production and Logistics at Audi.
With the Audi Fleet Manager, the automobile manufacturer can give the logistics of its vehicle production a further advantage. Typically, AGV models from different manufacturers cannot communicate and therefore have to travel on different routes in the plant. Audi is testing a solution developed with the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) to solve the problem, which makes it possible to use AGVs with different assets in the same room.
In China, Audi logistics experts have set up a similar Supermarket 2.0 system together with employees from FAW-Volkswagen Automotive in Foshan. The system was based on an AGV system from a local manufacturer and was tailored to the specific requirements of the supermarket 2.0 principle. It went live in early 2020.
The FAW-VW plant produces the Audi A3, Audi Q2L and Audi Q2L e-tron for the Chinese market as well as various other vehicles of the Volkswagen Group.
Last year, Daimler released details of a similar goods-to-person system that an AGV called Bixi uses for parts handling for the aftermarket in China.