Since 1994 Volkswagen Posznan has been manufacturing light commercial vehicles such as Caddy or the van T6. Body construction, paint shop and assembly are also established in the production facility. Every day 720 completed vehicles exit the plant. Special vehicles, for instance police cars, vehicles for the German Bundeswehr and Post are produced by the automotive manufacturer in plant 4 for special vehicle production in Swarzedz, some 15 minutes away by car. Here, Caddy, Caddy Maxi and T6 are adapted to individual customer requirements.
Just in time and just in sequence
Car windows, seats, engines, gear shifts and sun protection louvers - the product lists in the supply depots could be continued ad infinitum. The car manufacturer provides for 2,000 products consistently, on a total of 30,000 m². With the diversity of components and their different sizes picking is a complex process. This is completed by sequencing processes important to production. In its plant in Poznan, VW has 54 sequencing zones. These are supplied with so-called product baskets. Before the implementation of the pick-by-voice system Volkswagen Poznan relied on paper pick lists to fill these transport units. Robert Koniezny, head of logistics planning at Volkswagen Poznan says: “It is decisive for picking that the components are taken from the racks and placed into the product baskets in their proper order. This is the only way to ensure that all components arrive at the related manufacturing station in their proper order and at the right time. Any picking error will affect all downstream processes.”
Picking affects assembly
Complex picking processes affect the programming of the voice software considerably. topsystem has imaged the different sequencing options in Lydia® Voice. Torsten Isenhardt, Project Manager, explains: “Windscreens are sequenced backwards. Therefore the picking cart is loaded from the back to the front. However, cardboard boxes with smaller items such as sun protection louvers can be filled unsystematically so that in this case route optimized picking is possible.” For this the developers adapted some components of the software. In particular the different ways of sequencing were programmed. The system was put to comprehensive testing by VW Poznan before going live since even a short breakdown of the picking system may cause a standstill of the production lines.
Error rate reduced by 95 percent
Lydia® Voice informs the pickers about the storage bin they have to go to and how many items they should withdraw. They wear the mobile voice computer Voxter® on their back while picking, thus the risk of damaging the withdrawn parts is minimized. Voxter® is connected to a headset via cable. This way the picker has both hands free for the picking process. When he arrives at the storage bin the picker confirms the warehouse compartment and then the withdrawal of the items by speaking the check digits and withdrawal quantities. In addition the check digit of the storage compartment of the picking cart, into which the item is placed, is confirmed. This increases process reliability considerably. Compared to the picking list the error rate with the new system has been reduced by almost 95 percent. Every day almost 60 staff members pick up to 40,000 items. They profit from higher picking speed and assistance provided by voice dialog. In particular the improved ergonomics has a noticeable effect on the withdrawal of bulky products. The hands-free concept facilitates picking of heavy engine blocks or windscreens. Due to speaker independence the software facilitates the training of new staff members. Without additional voice training the technology recognizes all speakers - regardless of their gender, dialect or accent. The voice dialog is operated intuitively. After a short training period the pickers accept the voice system as their personal assistant.
Productivity considerably increased
Shortly after start-up the pickers at VW Poznan are delighted by the increased work comfort of Lydia® Voice Suite. Even the training time of new staff members was reduced by 70 percent. Using Lydia® VW Poznan has increased labor productivity by 30 percent and sequencing quality. Moreover, the system could be put into operation after four months only. Robert Konieczny says: “Due to the ongoing professional support in Polish and the high competence of topsystem we were able to realize this project in such a short time. Lydia® is the perfect system for supplying our production lines since it takes not only just-in-time processes into account, but also just-in-sequence processes.” Volkswagen Poznan plans to use the ergonomic picking vest Lydia® VoiceWear® in future.