David Strnad, Head of Brand Logistics at ŠKODA AUTO, stressed, “For parts to be delivered to the production line just in sequence, a range of highly complex processes need to operate in perfect harmony. By using the new handling robot at the Kvasiny plant, we have been optimising these processes, making production more efficient and thus even more precise and ultimately even faster. At the same time, this Industry 4.0 technology has further increased workplace safety in the factory. And it has made the workstations more ergonomic.”
In Kvasiny, starter batteries are placed on pallets near the assembly line where they are ready for use when required. This is in contrast to conventional sequencing, which instead sees the batteries being fetched from the parts warehouse when they need to be fitted into the cars. To identify the correct parts for the vehicle that is currently being assembled, a robot scans the batteries using a special camera. It then puts the starter batteries in transport trolleys that carry them directly to the production line. The robot also stacks empty pallets and transport packaging, and can order new pallets containing starter batteries from the warehouse when required. It gets from A to B using mobile lane guidance, is protected by an all-around safety net and is equipped with sensors to prevent collisions with staff or machinery.
Once a few relatively minor adjustments have been made to its hardware, the innovative handling robot will be able to be used at many other workstations too where processes are carried out using sequencing. ŠKODA AUTO therefore intends to make even greater use of systems such as this in Production and Logistics going forward. The Czech car manufacturer has invested a total of approximately 450,000 euros in the handling robot at its Kvasiny site and has already filed for a patent application for the system.
ŠKODA AUTO is also testing another new concept at Kvasiny that is designed to further increase work safety at the plant: each forklift truck has been fitted with a tracking system so that the machines can identify other forklifts nearby at an early stage. Workers at the plant wear a special wristband that works using the same principle and alerts its wearer to dangers by vibrating. If the tracking system detects the presence of nearby forklift trucks or employees, the machines automatically reduce their speed and – if required – automatically come to a halt to prevent a collision. An LED light fitted on each of the forklifts also provides information about the density of potential sources of danger in the immediate vicinity.
The Kvasiny plant is one of the most modern production facilities in the entire automotive industry. In addition to the KAROQ, the KODIAQ and SUPERB model ranges as well as the SUPERB iV plug-in hybrids also roll off the assembly line there. ŠKODA is consistently automating production and continuously implementing new Industry 4.0 technologies at the site. Since September 2019, the Czech car manufacturer has, for example, been implementing ‘dProduction’ at Kvasiny. This system supports the workforce in carrying out manufacturing steps correctly, notifies them of changes to the production process and serves as proof of quality control. In November 2019, ŠKODA AUTO’s dProduction project won the Automotive Lean Production award for the best smart digital application.