On Tuesday 16 August, a regular meeting focusing on strategic topics of digitalisation in ŠKODA AUTO Production and Logistics took place at the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics at the Czech Technical University in Prague (CIIRC CTU). On this occasion, members of the ŠKODA AUTO Board of Directors, Dr. Michael Oeljeklaus and Christian Schenk, including four dozen experts from the fields of production and logistics, quality management, finance and IT, were introduced to selected projects currently underway at the CIIRC CTU that are related to the automotive industry. During a two-hour tour of the Testbed for Industry 4.0, the scientific teams introduced to them concrete research results using the latest technologies available at the RICAIP Centre of Excellence.
The researchers presented ten illustrative experiments to ŠKODA AUTO representatives. The range of individual demonstrations was very diverse – from a mobile app for worker training, to robotic 3D printing and mobile robot collaboration in logistics using a 5G network, to hybrid manufacturing combining additive manufacturing with machining. Direct applications in the automotive industry include a system currently under development for retrofitting of batteries from electric vehicles without the necessity to recycle them into base material. Thanks to automated operations with minimal human involvement, car batteries can be revived to find new applications despite their lower power capacity.
“ŠKODA AUTO is a long-standing and valuable industrial partner of our institute and also a technology driver, which the company demonstrates both through its involvement in research projects with us and its support for platforms such as the National Centre for Industry 4.0. It is important for us that today we were able to show our colleagues from ŠKODA AUTO the new solutions that our teams are currently working on and to present new topics and opportunities for further cooperation,”said prof. Vladimír Mařík, Scientific Director, CIIRC CTU.
CIIRC CTU researchers are currently working on projects that, for example, address a complex system for ensuring zero-error production. This requires automated quality monitoring, but also an understanding of the causality of data collected from processes, machines and products. The future of production and the challenge is also the work of hybrid teams composed of humans and robots, which will act as artificially intelligent partners.
“We are pleased that ŠKODA AUTO Production and Logistics is one of the founding and key partners of Testbed for Industry 4.0. The long-term development of this laboratory, including the operation of the National Centre for Industry 4.0, demonstrates the high professionalism of the CIIRC CTU team. In conjunction with our experts, we have a unique space here to support research and development, innovation and the digital competences of our employees. Cooperation with CIIRC CTU and Testbed for Industry 4.0 is crucial for us. Thanks to this, we are already shaping the future of industrial production together, supporting the digital transformation at ŠKODA AUTO,” commented Jiří Drbout, Head of Brand Planning, ŠKODA AUTO Production and Logistics.
This was the first time that researchers and ŠKODA AUTO executives have met in this form since the completion of the Testbed for Industry 4.0. In the spring of this year, this experimental laboratory was equipped with cutting-edge technologies worth over CZK 350 million thanks to the involvement of the CIIRC CTU in the Czech-German centre for advanced production RICAIP. ŠKODA AUTO actively uses the laboratory to support collaborative and contract research, innovation and the development of employees’ digital competences.
Photos: M. Svatonova, CIIRC CTU