Information Technology (IT)
Increasing digitalization and networking, the necessary end-to-end support for business processes and the development of new locations continually pose new challenges to the Group’s IT functions. A well-equipped, state-of-the-art infrastructure is essential in order to master these challenges.
Further developing the application landscape at the corporate locations, in business processes and in the sales network efficiently is just as vital. The IT staff are responsible not only for developing the systems at all of the Volkswagen Group’s brands, but also for supporting users in technical development, production and sales. This is how applications tailored to the exact needs of the users are created.
The growing convergence of production and IT is opening up new opportunities. Big data processes allow machine faults to be analyzed and action to be taken at an early stage. Big data makes it possible to analyze and evaluate data volumes that are too vast and too complex to be processed using manual or conventional methods. Volkswagen’s factory planners can use the “digital factory” to virtually walk through the buildings before the groundbreaking and to test out their plans, thus safeguarding product launch.
The Group-wide “Fertigungs-, Informations- und Steuerungssystem” (FIS – Production, Information and Control System) ensures that vehicles are efficiently produced – at the right time and with the right equipment – at currently 43 plants worldwide. FIS is a key success factor for enabling flexible and cross-brand production in the global production network. In the past three years, we have increased the Group-wide level of IT standardization for managing our plants to 84%.
Volkswagen is addressing the trend towards digitalization in the Group’s own IT labs. IT labs are innovation centers where new IT solutions are developed in close cooperation between departments, research institutions and technology partners. The innovation centers act as test laboratories for the Group, as advisors on questions concerning the future of information technology and as liaison offices for start-up companies.
Data:Lab in Munich is the center of expertise in topics such as big data, advanced analytics (process for systematic analysis of data in electronic form), machine learning and artificial intelligence. The team of data scientists, project managers and technology experts is supported by specialists from leading big data companies, research institutions and representatives of start-ups. Examples of Data:Lab’s successful projects include forecasting customer wishes and loyalty and a long-term and all-time forecast on planning of spare parts for the Kassel central depot. This power of innovation is recognized outside of the Group as well. Thus, since November 2015 Data:Lab officially bears the title of "A Place of Excellence in the Land of Ideas". In a nationwide German competition, Data:Lab was cited from among over 1,000 research institutes, companies, start-ups and associations as the award winner in the Business category. The jury warranted its decision by stating that Data:Lab gives a convincing answer to the question of what form mobility will take in the future.
Digital:Lab is being opened in Berlin. Among other things, a digital mobility platform for the Group will be created there in order to be able to provide mobility services such as fuel price agents or parking and weather services to the end customer.
We established Smart.Production:Lab at the Wolfsburg location. This operates in the Industry 4.0 environment and is making an important contribution towards progressively turning the Volkswagen Group’s production plants into smart factories. With conscious use of agile methods and ways of working and a start-up culture, the lab’s goal is to quickly develop software and hardware pilots and prototypes for production and logistics in-house in a manner geared to application. The smart logistics watch project is one example of an implemented pilot. Based on an idea that arose at an internal hackathon (programming competition), a smart watch application was developed in the lab in collaboration with the department in a short period of time. As a result of this solution, logistics employees can be meaningfully supported and the logistics process of parts picking can be further optimized.
Strong networking is also advanced within the Group’s IT department. Group-wide hackathons or initiatives such as IT pitching days (idea competitions) create platforms on which employees can develop new ideas and software prototypes together. With internal communities such as the Agile Community and the Group Connect internal network, we can quickly network experts together across the Group. We are establishing these new methods, means and ways of working so that the Group’s IT department can respond quickly, flexibly and efficiently to constantly changing requirements.
CodeFEST8 and KIDScraft 1.0 represent the close integration between school and university students and the Group’s IT department. The programming competition CodeFEST8 was jointly organized in 2015 by several of the Group’s brands and was aimed at university students studying technical subjects, particularly computer science and business information systems. As part of the competition, the participants developed software with the theme of “mobility of the future” in just 28 hours. Several hundred young people took part in the first round, which took place simultaneously at eight universities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. CodeFEST8 was thus the largest programming competition to date in the automotive industry. The two best teams from each university campus qualified for the finals at CeBIT. At KIDScraft 1.0, the Group’s IT summer camp, 150 children from the Wolfsburg region carried out research like future IT engineers. The aim of KIDScraft 1.0 is to promote young talent over the long term and, in particular, get girls interested in IT, as well as to safeguard the future of the IT location in Wolfsburg and environs.