ŠKODA AUTO uses fully autonomous transport robot at Vrchlabí plant

ŠKODA AUTO uses fully autonomous transport robot at Vrchlabí plant

› A fully autonomous transport system carries parts between the mechanical measuring

centre and processing machines

› A guided tour is all the robot needs to grasp its route and environment

› Digitalisation and Industry 4.0 are cornerstones of ŠKODA AUTO’s 2025 Strategy

Mladá Boleslav, 11 June 2018 – As a key cornerstone of its 2025 Strategy, ŠKODA AUTO is

rigorously advancing the digitalisation of its production process. As of now, the Czech car

manufacturer is using a fully autonomous, self-learning transport robot at the Vrchlabí

component plant. This robot is able to recognise obstacles along its journey through the

plant and to incorporate other information from its surroundings when planning its route. If

necessary, it changes its course to always get to its destination as quickly as possible. It

thereby contributes to further improving safety at work and the efficiency of transport

processes at the plant.

“It’s been a conscious decision to use ŠKODA AUTO’s first fully autonomous robot at the Vrchlabí

plant. With it, we’re once again highlighting the plant’s key significance as an ultra-modern hightech

location,” said ŠKODA AUTO Board Member for Production and Logistics, Michael Oeljeklaus.

“With the new transport system, we are consistently continuing to introduce technological

innovations at our plants in keeping with Industry 4.0,” added Oeljeklaus.

On one trip, the transport robot can carry a load of up to 130 kg and chooses the correct paths fully

autonomously. Unlike traditional automated transport systems, it does not require lane guidance in

the form of induction loops, magnetic strips or reflectors. To learn the route, the vehicle only needs

to be guided between the stations once via a tablet or joystick. In doing so, it captures its

environment as well as changes to its surroundings all by itself and adapts its route if necessary.

Sophisticated, state-of-the-art technology enables the robot to navigate its environment: using

sensors and laser scanners, it recognises vehicles and stationary obstacles as well as people

crossing its path. The control system calculates the approach speed and detects if a collision is

imminent. In this case, the robot stops by itself or takes evasive action. Unlike other systems used

at ŠKODA AUTO, it immediately adjusts its route based on information from its surroundings,

without having to stop in the process. If the fully autonomous robot detects that it will regularly

encounter obstacles at a specific point along its journey, it changes its route permanently. If

necessary, the electrically powered system is able to travel to all of the destinations at the Vrchlabí

plant, which covers 16,000 m2.

The robot completes 120 trips per day and travels a total distance of 35 km on its route between the

mechanical measuring centre and the processing machines. The testing and pilot phases have

already been completed; the robot is in regular use at the factory starting from June 2018.

The increasing production numbers at ŠKODA AUTO translate into higher utilised capacity for the

plants and more traffic in the production areas. The autonomous robot contributes to the continuous

improvement of work safety in Vrchlabí and helps to minimise work risks.

In production, ŠKODA AUTO is systematically turning to technology from Industry 4.0, such as

cooperating robots. These are used in the production of direct-shift transmissions at the Vrchlabí

plant and support the employees with one of the most sensitive tasks in transmission production –

inserting the gear actuator piston. A handling robot also supplies dozens of machines with parts

and returns empty containers to the warehouse. The extensive ‘transparent factory’ IT system also

forms part of operations.

ŠKODA AUTO defined the digitalisation of products and processes as one of the cornerstones of its

2025 Strategy. Further central areas of activity include the electrification of the ŠKODA model

range, the conquering of new markets and the brand’s expansion into new business areas relating

to traditional car manufacturing through the addition of various mobility services.

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Group profile

In existence since 1805, and across family generations, D’Ieteren seeks growth and value creation by pursuing a strategy on the long term for its businesses and actively encouraging and supporting them to develop their position in their industry or in their geographies. The Group has currently the following activities:

  • D'Ieteren Auto distributes Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, Škoda, Bentley, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Porsche and Yamaha vehicles in Belgium. It has a market share of around 22% and 1.2 million vehicles on the road. Its business model is evolving towards improving the lives of citizens with fluid, accessible and sustainable mobility. Sales and adjusted operating result reached respectively EUR 3.6 billion and EUR 119.0 million in FY 2019.
  • Belron (54.85% of the voting rights) has a clear purpose: “making a difference by solving people’s problems with real care”. It is the worldwide leader in vehicle glass repair and replacement and operates in 39 countries, through wholly owned businesses and franchises, with market leading brands – including Carglass®, Safelite® and Autoglass®. In addition, Belron manages vehicle glass and other insurance claims on behalf of insurance customers. Sales and adjusted operating result reached respectively EUR 4.2 billion and EUR 400.5 million in FY 2019.
  • Moleskine (100% owned) is a premium and aspirational lifestyle brand which develops and sells iconic branded notebooks and writing, travel and reading accessories through a multichannel distribution strategy across 114 countries. Sales and adjusted operating result reached respectively EUR 163.9 million and EUR 18.6 million in FY 2019.
  • D’Ieteren Immo (100%) groups together the Belgian real estate interests of D’Ieteren Group. It owns and manages approximately 30 properties which generated EUR 19.7 million net rental income in FY 2019. It also pursues investment projects and carries out studies into possible site renovations. 

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