Volkswagen envisions mobile robots for assembly lines image

Volkswagen AG has a futuristic vision for its manufacturing that involves mobile machinery and robots working and making decisions independently in their factories.

At a conference that took place last month in Shanghai, a senior VW executive that handles implementing Industry 4.0 (integration of big data with traditional manufacturing) explained that Volkswagen is taking into account a future image of more mobile and independent robots.

Fabian Fischer, chief of internal processing in VW’s research unit for materials and manufacturing said that “What we are discussing in the moment is robot production, and how far away is it that robots are not fixed. So, if you have a robot on wheels and electricity on board, and the robot is not fixed, and the robot can decide now I make this, and afterward I drive to make this, the robot can decide what he has to do.”

While it is yet an idea, Fischer gave it as an example to what the German carmaker is expecting from its machinery suppliers in order to implement the Industry 4.0.

While serious attention was given to 4.0 onyl starting 2013, Fischer added that the progress is quick and that the company has finished a prototype car where every single part has RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips or other forms of traceable technology. Fischer also said that given that a development period for new research usually takes between three to four years, the work on Industry 4.0 is yet in its early stages. The motivation for Volkswagen’s work into the 4.0 is the fact the company has 115 factories worldwide, 12 different brands and 280 model units, which could be manufactured faster this way.