Information Technology (IT)

With digitalization and networking in the ascendant on the whole, all of our business processes must also be supported digitally from end to end. At the same time, the establishment of new locations is posing high demands in terms of networking and coordination. A modern, tailor-made infrastructure and efficient application landscape are essential to meeting these requirements. The centerpiece is the Group-wide “Fertigungs-, Informations- und Steuerungssystem” (FIS – Production, Information and Control System). This enables us to efficiently produce vehicles at currently 43 plants worldwide – at the right time and with the right equipment. FIS is a key success factor for flexible, cross-brand manufacturing in the global production network.

In 2016, we have increased the Group-wide level of IT standardization for managing our plants to 88 (84)%. The “digital factory” is an example of an application launched only recently: even before the Company breaks ground on the construction of a new plant, our planners are able to take a virtual walk through the building, check their plans and thus ensure production can begin as intended.

The growing convergence of production and IT is opening up new opportunities. Big data processes help us to analyze faulty machinery and take action at an early stage.

Volkswagen is addressing the trend towards digitalization in the Group’s own IT labs. At these innovation centers, 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.

Our first IT lab, Data:Lab in Munich, is the center of expertise and innovation on topics involving big data, advanced analytics (process for systematic analysis of data in electronic form), machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Another center of innovation opened in Berlin in the reporting period – Digital:Lab. Among other things, the experts there are working on a digital platform that will enable us to provide our customers with mobility services, including information on fuel prices, parking and weather conditions.

We established the Smart.Production:Lab at the Wolfsburg location in August 2015. This acts as a center of expertise for Industry 4.0-related topics and is making an important contribution towards progressively turning the Volkswagen Group’s production plants into smart factories.

Activities covering the Internet of things, data analytics, human-robot collaboration and wearables aim to comprehensively digitalize production and logistics. At the Smart.Production:Lab, we are helping to shape the future of car manufacturing.

We are also constantly increasing our efforts to network employees. Internal communities and the Company’s internal Group Connect network are helping to establish new methods, means and ways of working within the Group and to put experts in touch with one another.

Volkswagen also actively seeks open discussions with start-ups in order to turn innovative ideas from young entrepreneurs into products suitable for series production. Internal and external hackathons (programming competitions) additionally create ideas for new products and services. At the CeBIT, for example, Group IT and SAP arranged the “InnoJam++” in which around 100 international mathematics, computer science, natural science, and technology students took part.