inside
The employee magazine
of the Volkswagen brand

Company

Eager to Learn, and Quick, Short Routes

Kaluga is the Volkswagen brand’s most successful plant of 2017, earning the title "Transformer of the Year".


Production & Logistics awards the prize based on the TRANSFORM.FACTORY+ Strategy. The Volkswagen Group Rus Technical Director, Oliver Grünberg tells us how they did it!

How pleased are you that the Kaluga plant is "2017 Transformer of the Year?"
Very pleased, there’s no doubt about it. But I’m even more pleased by how proud our team is of this achievement. We didn’t set out specifically to win the prize, but our goal in the last year was to continue to reduce costs and increase productivity. And we were successful – so successful that we even won a prize.

Why did you win the "Productions Oscar," as the "Transformer of the Year" prize is also known?
The prize is awarded among the vehicle manufacturing plants of the Volkswagen brand. There are three categories, which are differently weighted. The most important category is the factory monitor, as it summarizes all the key figures for productivity, cost reduction and quality. In the summary of all the figures, our plant in Kaluga was clearly in the lead. That’s a strong performance, and I’m thankful to my team for that.

OLIVER GRÜNBERG (47)

has been the Technical Director for the Russian region for one year and manages the Kaluga plant. He is a qualified physicist and has a doctorate in engineering. Oliver Grünberg started at Volkswagen at the Wolfsburg plant in 1995. From 2007 to 2009, he was Production Manager at the Kaluga plant of Volkswagen Group Rus, where he was responsible for the project and launch phase. From 2012 to 2014, he was responsible for the "Nizhnij Novgorod production facility" project and was subsequently made Head of Brand Production Planning for Skoda in Mladá Boleslav in the Czech Republic. Grünberg is married and has two children.

You have been plant manager in Kaluga for one year. What sets the plant apart?
Since the Kaluga plant consists of both vehicle and engine production, and I’m also responsible for our contract manufacture in Nizhnij Novgorod, it’s difficult to give a short answer. All three areas have their unique strengths. One thing they all have in common, though, is a young workforce with an average age of about 34, and their employees’ willingness and ability to learn. I have never experienced it at such a level before. We also have short routes everywhere – in both the spatial sense and in our decision-making processes. The team, by which I mean the workers on the production line as much as I do the management, from the foreman to the plant management, is unbelievably quick to find and implement solutions. That is something that impresses me again and again on a daily basis.

How is the automotive market developing in Russia, physically the largest country in the world? You have challenging times behind you...

That’s true, unfortunately. I was fortunate to take up my post just as we were emerging from the worst of it. In my previous posts in Russia, however, I had already experienced some difficult times. Now, though, we are back in motion, not least because our colleagues from the Moscow plant are doing a good job. This helped us make the decision to start building up a new "soft" night shift team in vehicle production at Kaluga again. The engine plant has been running a seven-day operation since the beginning of this year, as we now export our 1.6-liter MPI engines worldwide. In the second half of the year, we will also ramp up capacity in Nizhnij Novgorod to at least a two-shift operation. You see, it’s all moving in the right direction. We hope it will stay that way. At least, we are doing everything we can.

Other than Russia, you have also worked in Germany, the Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and India. What have you gained from these international experiences?

Plenty! I find it fascinating to pass on knowledge, motivate teams, help them achieve goals, and at the same time expand one’s own horizons and gather experiences in other countries and even different cultural circles. These are all things that are only possible in an international company like Volkswagen.

What are your goals for Kaluga?

As the Technical Director of Volkswagen Group Rus, my goals are not limited to the Kaluga plant. The vehicle production division has to reduce its costs significantly again this year and next year in order to keep the promise we made as part of receiving the go-ahead for further vehicle projects. If we are successful, vehicle production can look forward to a long-term profitable future in 2020 at full capacity after the ramp-up curve is complete.

What is the situation with the engine plant and contract manufacture?
In the engine plant, we want to increase the number of engines produced so that we can meet demand on the Russian market as well as for export. We may even be able to increase it a little more after that. For our contract manufacture, we need a breakthrough in the approval of new projects this year in order to fully utilize the capacity of the plant and make it profitable in the long term. The corresponding vehicle projects for Volkswagen and Skoda are on the right track.

This summer, the most important sporting event of the year will take place in Russia: the soccer World Cup. Are you sensing any excitement from your team yet?

Currently I sense the excitement among employees who have transferred from Germany, in particular. Our Russian colleagues were ecstatic when their ice hockey team won Olympic gold in the final against Germany. Russian soccer is not taken very seriously by most Russians, because the team is not yet internationally prominent. But that might change in this year’s World Cup.

Will there be any special World Cup events for employees?
I’m sure we will think of something so our employees can enjoy the World Cup – also as a thank you for their hard work. For example, I can envision having a public screening in the entrance hall of our factory.

"The team here impresses me again and again on a daily basis."

Kaluga

118,500

vehicles produced in 2017

4,300

employees in vehicle and engine production

Models:

Tiguan, Polo, Skoda Rapid

Engines:

EA211 1.6L MPI