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From planning to production, Continental aims for the digital factory.

Continental Backs Digital Factory for Auto Parts Production

A consortium of German experts hope improved efficiency and flexibility will come from digitalized production processes.

Continental is leading a consortium of production specialists in a bid to make automotive component production a fully digital process.

The Tier 1 supplier is one of eight IT and process optimization companies, universities and specialist start-ups taking part in a project dubbed “Digitalization of the Industrialization Process in the Automotive and Supplier Industries” (DIAZI) funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action.

Its aim is to create production lines in modern automotive plants that will be planned, simulated and operated digitally to increase efficiency, flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Continental says this is vital for producers to keep pace with faster development cycles, complex supply chains and changing customer requirements.

The DIAZI project promotes the notion of the “digital factory” which could see new production plants started up virtually before commissioning. Employing artificial intelligence, this step could make it possible to continuously improve processes, make accurate productivity predictions and reduce downtime owing to in-depth data analysis of all machines involved. In this way, production plants of a company, as well as suppliers' production sites, can be digitally connected for fast, scalable and high-quality production.

The project began at the start of 2023 and is designed to run for about three years. It has completed its first phase defining specific demonstration models including the virtual line planning and commissioning process, from data-based process optimization to application operation. Experts involved in the process include Landshut University of Applied Sciences, Technical University of Braunschweig, software start-up IFOX Systems, IT management company Suse,  intralogistics expert Naise, process and production optimizer Dualis and plus10, a provider of analysis software for automated production plants.

Thomas Ebenhöch, head of operations for the user experience business area in Continental Automotive, says: “As the lead company in the DIAZI project, Continental is driving a new approach to effective and sustainable production processes in the automotive and supplier industries. Now, through digital simulation, artificial intelligence and data management in the cloud, we’re bringing innovations to market faster, more efficiently, more sustainably and more cost-effectively across the manufacturing industry. Early results show we’re on the right track.”

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