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It must have been a tremendous sight, watching Hannibal make his way from Spain to Rome in 218 BC. He travelled with an entourage of approximately 50,000 foot soldiers, 9,000 on horseback and 39 giant elephants. Together, they climbed steep slopes in France; along the narrowest passes, through howling winds, snow and rain, until they accomplished the impossible: crossing the Alps in 16 days. Even today, this would be both a tactical and logistical feat.

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Transport of the new press shop from Erfurt to Mladá Boleslav.

40 trucks set off from the capital of Thuringia to transport the 190-tonne cargo – the collective weight of Hannibal's 39 elephants – to the Elbe.

Last summer, the logistics experts at ŠKODA oversaw a comparably mammoth task: they had to transport the new press shop from Erfurt to Mladá Boleslav. 40 giant trucks set off from the capital of Thuringia to transport the 190-tonne cargo – the collective weight of Hannibal's 39 elephants – to the Elbe first of all. It was then loaded onto barges by crane to avoid disrupting the traffic between Germany and the Czech Republic, and transported leisurely to the port town of Mělník; into the air once again and loaded onto trucks, which took the cargo along highway 16 to Mladá Boleslav. Unlike Hannibal’s campaign, though, all the cargo arrived at the destination safely, in one piece, and on time.

ENTERING THE CRUCIAL PHASE IN DECEMBER

In recent months, engineers and technicians have been assembling the parts into a turbo-press line. Shortly before Christmas, the so-called optimization phase will commence, in which the PXL II will be put through its paces for limited production. The line will be fully operational in March 2017. “The system is one of the most modern of its kind in Central Europe,” says Michael Oeljeklaus, ŠKODA Board Member for Production and Logistics. Thanks to the fourteen decentralized servo motors, the production process is especially flexible, and significantly shorter changeover times are required: employees require only three minutes to change a tool. In addition, the servo technology ensures that the energy released during pressing can be recovered. Compared to conventional systems, the PXL II consumes up to 15% fewer resources. “The new press shop is another important element of our 'Green Future' environmental strategy, which focuses on resource-efficient and sustainable production, as well as energy-efficient vehicles,” explains Oeljeklaus. The new line will enable ŠKODA to produce aluminium car body parts for the first time. 

 

The system is one of the most modern of its kind in Central Europe.

Michael Oeljeklaus

 

 
The PXL II can create 23,000 press parts for several models every day. Through this project, ŠKODA is creating 140 new jobs, and will be operating the new press shop in twelve-hour shifts around the clock, seven days a week, with more than 1,000 employees. Until that time, however, the next planning conundrum is already on the agenda for the experts: Over the coming months, they will be setting up the next independent press to prepare the tools for the new line. But projects like this are now almost routine for the logisticians.

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