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Efficiency Program

Key to more efficiency

In the future, the deployment of test vehicles will be managed centrally within Technical Development. The effect? Fewer cars, better use of capacity, and leaner processes will reduce costs by millions of euros.

Prototypes will now be used during development by several departments.

Be it brakes, seats or ignition lock, before any model goes into series production, components must go through months of testing in Technical Development (TD). To perform these tests, the teams build models known as prototype carriers. Between 2009 and 2014, the number of these at the Wolfsburg factory rose by 0ne-third to around 8,200. One reason for this growth was the expanding model portfolio. But an analysis in fall of 2014 showed that these prototype carriers have been used infrequently or, for long periods, not at all.

“Each prototype body costs well into six figures,” explains Jens Welge. Since mid 2014, the engineer has been managing the Prototype Management Optimization project, which contributes to the EfficiencyProgram as part of the FIT2020 initiative. The goal is to reduce the number of prototypes by 25 percent by the end of 2017. The team aims to do this by working with various departments in TD. Engineers in areas ranging from engine development to electronics are collaborating to determine how to use fewer cars while ensuring the same amount of testing with the same level of quality.

In the future, the vehicles needed will be ordered by the newly formed central Prototype Management team, which manages the vehicle pool and coordinates the time periods in which the vehicles are in the specialist departments. Vehicles will no longer be used exclusively for just one department. “We are no longer thinking in terms in cars, but in terms of testing periods,” says Welge. This is one of several approaches that has already had an effect: 800 prototypes were built in 2015, fewer than in 2014, helping to contribute €20 million to FIT 2020. The project, first launched with the Polo 18 months ago, is currently being rolled out across the whole of TD.

» Each prototype body costs well into six figures «