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"A Greater Focus on Production"

Chief Production and Logistics Officer Andreas Tostmann on the significance of his division, the skills of the team of the future, and his return to Wolfsburg after 14 years abroad. He urges us to make and implement decisions more quickly.


You’ve worked for Volkswagen in Germany, Mexico, South Africa, Slovakia and Spain. What experiences can you utilize for your Board of Management tasks?
Anyone who takes on management tasks abroad will quickly learn that, in every country and in every culture, there are different ways of achieving their goals. On top of that, a certain kind of spirit can often be found on the team in foreign locations. I’m going to use and transport the best experiences from these throughout the brand. In Bratislava, for example, our employees are focused on efficiency and productivity – we can all learn from that.

You know the manufacturing process inside and out. How is it possible to further increase productivity without compromising quality?
Those things are not mutually exclusive, because productivity and quality go hand-in-hand. The two absolutely belong together. Building more and more productive cars that inspire our customers is the best way to secure the future of our locations and our brand. Things crucial to this are strong team performance and leadership, and the ideas and initiatives of each individual for even better processes and standards. They also focus on sustainable production that conserves resources, and on good working conditions for the entire team. In view of the competition, we still have to work our way to the top of the automotive industry in terms of productivity.

How do you intend to meet this challenge for production and logistics?
Our main plant in Wolfsburg is showing us that this is possible. It won the Lean Production Award for the first time. This prestigious award attests to the plant’s exemplary pace of change on the path to greater productivity and efficiency compared to other European manufacturers. The future development of our brand will now focus more on production and give it a much higher priority. With our new Transform.Together strategy, we’re orienting ourselves to this. We still have a lot of hard work ahead of us.

"The greatest
opportunities
to make our
company even more efficient
lie in production."

ANDREAS TOSTMANN

has worked as Head of Production and Logistics for the Volkswagen brand since February of this year. He was born in Peine in 1962, and holds a degree in mechanical engineering and economics from the University of Braunschweig.

Tostmann joined Volkswagen in 1990, starting in the Group’s Product Planning division. Beginning in 1994, he was responsible for drive system planning at Volkswagen Mexico. One year later, he assumed responsibility for technical project planning and project management for drive systems in the Group. He became Plant Manager in Salzgitter in 2001. Three years later, Tostmann left for Volkswagen in South Africa as Managing Director. He was finally appointed CEO of Volkswagen in Slovakia in 2007, and in 2011 he was appointed Chief Production Officer of Seat.

What exactly remains to be done?
The greatest opportunities to make the company even more efficient lie in production. Here, we’re concentrating on the eight most important fields of action (see info box). That’s how we’re standardizing factories and plants and getting by with lower investments. A clear division of labor between the brand, regions and plants reduces costs. This is also ensured by standardized planning for excellent new starts at all our locations. If a plant has good ideas, they can be quickly transferred to others. This enables us to accelerate significantly and make full use of the power of our global production network. In general, we need to make and implement decisions more quickly. Most important, however, is the team, with its skills, ideas and team spirit. 

What does the team of the future need to be able to do?
The foundations are the professional skills of our well-trained employees. 
But the requirements are changing. In the past there was the electrician and the locksmith, while today there’s the mechatronics engineer and tomorrow even more IT specialists will find themselves directly in production, and programming and digitally controlling systems. In future, anyone who’s flexible, learns quickly and wants to create something new will forge a career in production. The goal remains: even higher productivity with the best quality. No one needs to be alarmed. Our production staff has always shown that they’re ready for change, which is what makes them successful.

You are a child of the region. You were born in Peine and you studied in Braunschweig. What’s it like to be back home?
I worked abroad for Volkswagen for 14 years. To be honest, when you first return home, it feels like another foreign posting. But then you feel your roots. You meet up with old friends and visit familiar places. So I settled back in quickly. Now I’m looking forward to working with the team to make a difference for our region.

Production and Logistics is tackling eight fields of action in its new Transform.Together strategy:

 

• Stable Production & Supply

• Productivity

• Ramp-up Excellence

• Think Blue. Factory

• Sustainable Structures

• Team of the Future

• Re-work Free Products and Processes

• Low-cost Factories of the Future

New strategy
for production