Mladá Boleslav – SKODA AUTO’s Technical Development department opened a new center for the manufacture of test vehicles and prototypes at its Mladá Boleslav site. The new facility means that these special vehicles can now be built completely under one roof. The carmaker uses state-of-the-art technologies, such as robot stations and virtual reality solutions, throughout the entire production process.
Johannes Neft, new SKODA AUTO Board Member for Technical Development since 1 January, said: “The use of test cars allows us to draw conclusions about numerous technical parameters at an early stage of development and make the necessary adjustments long before serial production of a new model commences. We are now taking the next step. In the future, we will build 300 test vehicles and 120 prototypes per year with maximum efficiency under one roof in our new, state-of-the-art facility at the Mladá Boleslav site. We have created the ideal conditions here to develop vehicles at the highest level and that will shape the future of our brand.”
In order to monitor not only individual components but also the vehicle as a whole, classic tests remain essential, despite digital simulations and models gaining more importance in the testing phase. Due to the increasingly complex and powerful electronic architecture of modern vehicles, the focus is on functional tests of electrics, electronics, and assistance systems, as well as on communication between in-car computers. SKODA produced some of the test vehicles for the all-electric ENYAQ iV at the new facility.
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David Vaněk, Head of Model and Prototype Manufacture, added: “Our new facility has three floors and houses the parts warehouse, body shop, final assembly and paint shop, all within the smallest of footprints ensuring short distances. At the same time, the facility’s high degree of automation allows for more agile processes and a significant increase in production capacity for test vehicles and prototypes. Furthermore, the building features state-of-the-art virtual reality technologies as well as 168 workplaces in open-space offices and 13 meeting rooms. A large part of the complex – 14,000 m² – is used for vehicle manufacture.”
The ground floor accommodates the parts warehouse including a covered yard for unloading trucks. The car bodies are built on the second floor, while the third floor contains the final assembly and the paint shop. A freight elevator is used to transport the material between floors.
Thanks to two robot stations, the proportion of automation in the body shop has increased from 15 to 45 percent. This doubles production capacity to ten car bodies per week – while requiring 20 percent less space. Furthermore, weight-saving designs can also be manufactured here, as SKODA AUTO has expanded its body shop to include an innovation center for testing joining techniques, such as clinching, riveting, flow drill screw (FDS) fastening, laser welding, and composite construction.
Virtual reality technologies allow workstations to be preconfigured and customized, and state-of-the-art IT systems are used in logistics. Quality control will be integrated into the production process and run parallel to the respective manufacturing steps. The new facility also includes an up to 300 km/h rolling road for this purpose.
The new model and prototype production facility is also very advanced from an ecological point of view. The short distances save approximately 1,800 l of fuel per year, therefore enabling a decrease in CO2 emissions of roughly five tonnes. The entire warehousing now being incorporated into vehicle manufacture results in further savings, reducing logistics costs by more than 150,000 euros annually.