inside
The employee magazine
of the Volkswagen brand

Production Sites

“Our Mission Statement: The Best Cars
are from Wolfsburg”

Michael Weis is responsible for work organization, among other things, at the Group’s biggest plant. He spoke to inside about the launch of the Seat SUV, the Golf series and the core skills of production employees.

Michael Weis with the ball model. This shows the extent to which the production system has been implemented at the Wolfsburg plant.

Employees in Wolfsburg are already producing the pilot series of the Tarraco, the next SUV from Seat. How is working together with the Spanish sister company going?

We are proud to be producing an attractive new product in our plant as part of the “Pact for the Future.” And we are even more pleased that the collaboration is going so well – especially because our plant manager, Stefan Loth, and other management figures in our production division spent several years at the Seat plant in Martorell. We know and value each other, and linguistic and cultural differences hardly come into the equation. A great team spirit developed quickly between Seat and Volkswagen.

How do you make sure that your team builds a Seat with the same dedication as a Golf, Tiguan or Touran?

Our team knows that additional Seat volumes secure jobs and therefore the future of the site. They are highly motivated to demonstrate their skills and flexibility by building three vehicles on the same line: the Tiguan, the Touran, and now the Seat in the extremely popular SUV segment. After all, our employees have “gasoline in their veins.” They live and breathe our mission statement: “The best cars are from Wolfsburg.”

How long did it take to convert the plant for the new model?

The necessary conversions and modifications in the pressing facility, the body shop, the paint shop and the assembly line were made very quickly. Don’t forget, we have a uniform production system throughout the Group. And the Seat vehicles are being produced on the MQB platform – just like ours. Uniform standards and processes are extremely helpful when two brands work together.

PQT – THE STRATEGY FOR THE  WOLFSBURG PLANT

The plant has broken down the TRANSFORM.FACTORY+ strategy for production and logistics for Wolfsburg: the PQT strategy for the Wolfsburg plant concentrates on the topics of productivity, quality and teamwork.

 

  • Productivity is associated with the aim of being an efficient and competitive high-volume production plant.
  • When it comes to Quality, our mission is: the best cars are from Wolfsburg.
  • Teamwork means that employees and management jointly shape the future of the plant and view car manufacturing as a team sport.


We have launched “Change Story Wolfsburg Plant,” a communication campaign that was designed to inform employees about the content of the “Pact for the Future” and further development of the plant. “It was important to us to understand the PQT strategy and the ‘Pact for the Future’ as an opportunity for change,” says Michael Weis.

One of the big topics everywhere is qualifications. What key qualifications will production staff in Wolfsburg need in the future?

They need to be technically qualified; our employees must be able to implement the production system and associated standards. They also need to able to quickly identify and rectify process faults and their causes. Excellent teamwork skills, personal responsibility, motivation and flexibility are also important. Because in the future, our employees will need to implement new ways of working even more effectively, for example in human-robot collaboration, in the operation of systems using tablets and handheld devices, or in virtual assembly training.

Isn’t that a superhuman task?

These are demanding but manageable tasks. No one has to worry about being left behind by developments – we systematically prepare our employees for new tasks and challenges.

In the past year, production at the Wolfsburg plant has become significantly more productive. How was this achieved?

Employees and management analyzed their processes in 385 CIP workshops – that’s more continuous improvement workshops than ever before! Building on this, we reorganized work content and sequences – resulting in shorter walking distances and waiting times. In short, we now have less waste and even better quality in our processes. This reduces the number of hours needed to assemble each vehicle. And that reduces costs, too. We have our employees to thank for this. They contributed many excellent suggestions for better organizing the work, and thereby helped make the plant more productive. It was a fantastic team effort. Our employees’ hard work deserves respect and recognition. Thank you!

“A great team spirit developed quickly.”

The Jetta, Golf Sportsvan (fuel consumption in L/100 km: 5.2 to 4.9 (combined), CO₂ emissions in g/km: 118 to 112 (combined), efficiency classes: B to A), Tiguan and Touran are the cars currently being built by employees at the Wolfsburg plant. The Golf Variant (fuel consumption in L/100 km: 5.5 to 5.0 (combined), CO2 emissions in g/km: 132 to 113 (combined), efficiency classes: B to A) will soon be added to the list. What does this mean for the plant?

As you know, the Zwickau plant is also producing Golf quotas. When this is no longer the case, we will be the only plant in Europe to produce this model. This presents both an opportunity and a challenge. It’s an opportunity because we will then be responsible for the entire Golf series, resulting in a high degree of capacity utilization. It’s a challenge because production will become more complex.

How is the Wolfsburg plant contributing to this?

The entire production division – and the plant as a whole – is being made more productive and efficient, for example through better processes. Volkswagen will use the demographic development to responsibly adapt the workforce in the coming years. But many things will change – for example, the composition of the teams and specific work processes.

How will the team react?

Overall, the team is on board with these changes. After all, everyone knows that we must change in order to stay competitive and secure our future. The task of the management team is to communicate the requirements of the transformation and its outcomes effectively and to enter into a dialog with employees about the changes involved in the process. Here too, it is important to seize the opportunities of these changes and to improve the production process in terms of ergonomics and demographics through new possibilities in mechanization, digitalization and the use of tools.

Weis being interviewed in his office by inside.

 

MICHAEL WEIS (49)

is responsible for organizational development, the “Volkswagen Way” and industrial engineering at the Wolfsburg plant. He started his career in the armed forces, obtaining his doctorate at the Bundeswehr University in Munich. Later he became a freelance consultant, advising businesses on innovative workflows and organizational development. Weis is married with two children. His hobbies are cycling and hiking with his family. He also collects and restores hi-fi and tube amplifiers.