Audi and Volkswagen Embrace AI for Quality Control of Spot Welds

In this post:

    • Audi implements an AI quality control of around 1.5 million spot welds on 300 vehicles per shift.
    • AI frees employees to focus on anomalies, leading to better overall quality management.
    • Audi will extend the use of AI to three other Volkswagen Group locations.

Audi is revolutionizing its production activities with the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) systems for quality control purposes. The automaker has successfully developed and tested an AI-powered solution to examine spot welds in car bodies, leading to significant improvements in efficiency and overall quality management. This breakthrough has prompted Audi to expand the use of AI to other plants within the Volkswagen Group, including Audi plants in Brussels and Ingolstadt, as well as Volkswagen’s Emden facility.

Streamlining production and enhancing quality management

Using advanced AI technology, Audi has been able to analyze approximately 1.5 million spot welds on 300 vehicles during each shift at its Neckarsulm site. In comparison, prior to the use of AI, employees had to rely on manual ultrasound checks, laboriously examining around 5,000 spot welds per vehicle. By implementing AI, production staff are now able to shift their focus toward identifying potential anomalies, resulting in more efficient and targeted quality control measures.

The successful implementation of the AI system in Neckarsulm has paved the way for its deployment at other Volkswagen Group locations. Audi Brussels is currently undergoing preparations to install the necessary technical infrastructure, with Volkswagen’s Emden facility and Audi’s headquarters in Ingolstadt set to follow suit later this year. As part of this process, a team of experts is working on identifying differences in weld settings, allowing the AI model to be retrained accordingly.

The benefits of using AI in quality control extend beyond enhanced efficiency and targeted monitoring. The data generated through this process holds the potential for optimizing other manufacturing processes. Audi’s team is actively exploring the utilization of this data for predictive maintenance purposes, which could further streamline production activities and minimize downtime. Gerd Walker, Audi’s Board Member for Production and Logistics, emphasizes that digitalized assembly lines serve as a foundation for Audi’s vision of future production, aiming to enhance efficiency across all Audi locations worldwide.

Collaboration for auditable and certified AI-based quality control

To ensure the auditability and certification of the AI-based quality control system, Audi collaborated closely with the German Association for Quality (DGQ), the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO), and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA). Given the absence of current standards or certifications for AI applications, this collaborative approach provides a comprehensive framework for ensuring the integrity and reliability of the AI model. Audi has also developed an AI guide for production in conjunction with the Fraunhofer Institutes IAO and IPA.

This project, known as “WPS-Analytics,” serves as a significant use case within the Automotive Initiative 2025 (AI25) initiated by Audi. The AI25 aims to establish a competence network for digital factory transformation and innovation, leveraging digitalization to optimize production and logistics processes. By testing and implementing digital solutions in a real manufacturing environment in Neckarsulm, Audi and its partners from the scientific and IT industries are paving the way for the future of smart factories and the efficient production of premium vehicles.

Audi’s embrace of AI for quality control purposes marks a significant step forward in streamlining production processes and enhancing quality management. By utilizing AI to examine spot welds, Audi has achieved remarkable efficiency gains, allowing employees to focus on anomalies and improving overall quality control. With plans to expand the implementation of AI to other Volkswagen Group locations, Audi is at the forefront of digitalization in the automotive industry, setting a precedent for the future of manufacturing.

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