In a major move into the digital realm – the likes of which the air cargo sector can only fantasise about – Volkswagen and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are to jointly develop the Volkswagen Industrial Cloud, aimed at optimising production processes, ultimately including thousands of suppliers and possibly even competitors.
The two companies announced a multi-year, global agreement to jointly develop this project that will combine the data of all machines, plants and systems from all 122 global facilities of the Volkswagen Group.
This will create the essential prerequisites for achieving the productivity goals in production, the two said. In the long term, the global supply chain of the Volkswagen Group with more than 30,000 locations of over 1,500 suppliers and partner companies could also be integrated.
By leveraging Amazon Web Services technology and services, Volkswagen is creating its Industrial Cloud as an open industry platform which other partners from industry, logistics and sales may use in the future.
“We will continue to strengthen production as a key competitive factor for the Volkswagen Group,” says Oliver Blume, chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG and member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft responsible for ‘Production’. “Our strategic collaboration with Amazon Web Services will lay the foundation.”
“The Volkswagen Group, with its global expertise in automobile production, and Amazon Web Services, with its technological know-how, complement each other extraordinarily well. With our global industry platform we want to create a growing industrial ecosystem with transparency and efficiency bringing benefits to all concerned,” Blume adds.
“Volkswagen’s industrial cloud, which will reinvent its manufacturing and logistics processes, is yet another example of how Volkswagen continues to innovate and lead,” says Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS).
“Volkswagen’s and AWS’s collaboration will have a profound impact on efficiency and quality in production throughout Volkswagen’s global supply chain, as Volkswagen gains access to the broadest and deepest cloud with the most functionality, the most innovation, the highest performance and security, and the largest community of partners and customers of any other infrastructure provider. We are tightly aligned across Volkswagen’s businesses to help them reimagine the future of automobile manufacturing by taking advantage of all the benefits the cloud can deliver,” Jassy adds.
Digitalisation of production and logistics
Through the development of the Volkswagen Industrial Cloud, Volkswagen is laying the foundation for the seamless digitalisation of its production and logistics. Information technology at the production level of machinery, equipment and systems – for example for production planning and inventory management – is to be standardised and networked across all 122 production plants of the Volkswagen Group. To date, there have been differences between the individual plants.
Volkswagen has chosen the AWS portfolio of services including Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning analytics and compute services, which were developed especially for production environment and will be extended to the requirements of the automotive industry.
The architecture will be the new Digital Production Platform (DPP) from Volkswagen in the near future. All the Group’s plants and companies outside the Group will dock their system architectures onto this platform. This platform will standardise and simplify data exchange between systems and plants.
Process optimisation and fast integration of new tech
With its Industrial Cloud, Volkswagen intends to open up new possibilities for further improving the efficiency and flexibility of production. The combination of data from all plants will provide new prospects for process optimisation. These include more efficient control of material flow, the early detection and elimination of supply bottlenecks and process disruptions, and the optimised operation of machinery and equipment in all plants.
In addition, the cloud-based platform with its simplified data exchange is an essential prerequisite for Volkswagen to provide new technologies and innovations rapidly across its various locations. These include smart robotics, and data analysis functions to analyse and check shopfloor processes from plant to plant. With the cloud-based platform, new applications, for example in IT-security for shopfloor systems, can be scaled up direct to all locations throughout the world. Volkswagen will leverage AWS innovation best practices to become more agile and react faster on industry trends.
Open Industry platform to include other companies Volkswagen is creating the Industrial Cloud as an open platform. The objective is to integrate companies from the entire value stream and to build up a network of industrial partners with a database and information that will bring benefits to all concerned. In the long-term, the global supply chain of the Volkswagen Group with more than 30,000 locations of over 1,500 suppliers and partner companies could also be integrated.
It is also conceivable that the cloud platform will generally be accessible to other car manufacturers. This will create a steadily growing global industrial ecosystem. Specific negotiations with major industrial companies interested in migrating to the Volkswagen Industrial Cloud are already in progress.
The project will be developed at several IT-centres
Expert teams from Volkswagen and Amazon Web Services are forging ahead with the Volkswagen Industrial Cloud together. In the medium term, about 220 specialists are to work on the project. They are based at several Volkswagen IT competence centres, as well as a projected joint Industrial Cloud Innovation Center in Berlin. Experts in Dresden, Munich and Wolfsburg are providing further support.
The teams have already set 140 projects for integration. For example, these include a system for tracing the transfer of goods in- and outside the factory, e.g. by trucks (vehicle locating service) and services for the cross-plant analysis of system efficiency (overall equipment effectiveness, OEE). The goal is to put the Industrial Cloud and the first concrete services and functions into operation by the end of 2019.