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Volkswagen AG Forges Ahead With Transparent Prototype
In accordance with German automotive Industry 4.0 initiatives, the company currently receives RFID-tagged prototype parts from more than 150 suppliers for its Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi brands.
The same is also true of technical development. During the development phase, the components and parts are essentially prototypes with individual features and properties. As a result, a unique label is of critical importance. "Parts can only be identified effectively and efficiently in the automotive manufacturer's processes if the prototype parts have been given a standardized electronic label by the supplier," explains Hermann Dreyer, head of overall vehicle development for the Volkswagen brand. This helps to hone and refine core processes—for example, the construction status documentation for test vehicles. Such vehicles are subject to continuous changes and optimization processes during the development and testing phase. These processes are often very dynamic, which makes it particularly challenging to document the construction status of test vehicles.
The process-related exchange of electronic data between suppliers and Volkswagen AG is vital for this system to work effectively. The supplier communicates the individual features and properties of the prototype parts to the vehicle manufacturer using a business-to-business (B2B) platform hosted by Group IT. The combination of RFID labeling and the additional electronic data exchange enables scenarios such as the automatic recording of prototype parts in the incoming goods department. The component information provided by the suppliers can also be accessed during the subsequent development and testing process. This enables the test vehicles and prototype parts to "talk" to the development engineers, which supports the analysis process and contributes to its efficiency.
Dr. Malte Schmidt is the manager of Volkswagen AG's Transparent Prototype project.
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