e-Golf headliner fitted by a robot as standard.

The Gläserne Manufaktur (Transparent Factory) is a Volkswagen manufacturing location in Dresden. One of its roles is proving new systems before rolling them out to production sites. One recent trial involved the automated installation of the e-Golf headliner using robots.

Introducing new manufacturing techniques and technologies is an important part of improving productivity. However, it is not always what you want to trial on a full size production line. Unless you are very brave, very foolish, or Volkswagen

According to Dr Andreas Tostmann, member of the Board of Management for Production and Logistics for the Volkswagen brand. “Innovative technologies make an important contribution to greater productivity.”

Gläserne Manufaktur

The Gläserne Manufaktur is developing into the Volkswagen Group’s primary test location for trialling innovative technologies. In conjunction with its Wolfsburg and Emden factories, the Gläserne Manufaktur is part of a “technical centre” project. The primary idea is to achieve automation of complex work steps within assembly. The special challenge is that the testing and development takes place during production of the e-Golf in the Gläserne Manufaktur.

The first project, and a world first, uses robots to fit the headliner of the e-Golf as standard. This will prepare for a new near production concept car due from the end of 2019 at Volkswagen’s Zwickau plant.

Dr Andreas Tostmann says. “We want to achieve a 30% improvement in productivity in the Volkswagen brand factories by 2025 compared to 2018. This is to ensure our competitiveness in the long term and improving the profitability of the Volkswagen brand. To achieve this, the factories must become faster, leaner and more efficient. There are three technical centre projects in Wolfsburg, Emden and Dresden. They make an important contribution to this by testing innovative technologies.”

Lars Dittert is site manager at Dresden. “The Gläserne Manufaktur is the showcase for electric mobility and now also a pilot factory for the Volkswagen Group. The extraordinary aspect is that we are pushing ahead with our automation projects during production. A technology that makes it to series readiness can be used in the automotive industry worldwide. This enables us to integrate our expertise into the Group and further consolidate the profile of our site.”

The Gläserne Manufaktur has special production requirements due to its unique architecture. For example, testing for optical component detection is challenging due to the high light incidence and associated contrasts. The sensors must work under much more difficult conditions.

Special facilities

The safety requirements are also high due to the many visitors. An average of 400 guests visit the Gläserne Manufaktur daily. Furthermore, the small batch production of 72 e-Golfs per day is an advantage. The cycle time per workstation in Dresden is longer than conventional production facilities. A lot of employees are highly qualified to handle the larger workload at each workstation. Furthermore, the short distances between the workstations and comparatively large work area are an optimal environment for testing new technologies.

Volkswagen Brand Planning and Wolfsburg plant engineering supports the innovations in Dresden. Other projects at the Dresden site include the automated assembly and removal of the car doors and the human/robot collaboration.

A clip for automated installation of the e-Golf headliner is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIg9wfjx81E.