Interview The world of tool and mould making is being transformed
Germany – Audi’s toolmaking operation already includes intelligent tools with which the Ingolstadt-based automaker can translate ultra-stringent design requirements into a dependable process. Michael Breme, head of Audi Toolmaking, explains what it takes to be successful in tomorrow's manufacturing world.
ETMM: What requirements are automakers currently stipulating for toolmaking work?
Michael Breme: The ongoing challenges for toolmaking are internationalisation, derivatisation, flexibilisation and process reliability. The number of derivatives is rising, which entails in its turn a closer phasing of product launches at different production facilities worldwide. This means the actual lead times from order placement to completion of the equipment have been steadily reduced in recent years, and will continue to be reduced. At the same time, the complexity of conventional tools and bodywork production lines has increased, since additional derivatives and models are being manufactured on more flexible equipment.
ETMM: With lightweight construction, the stipulations for design become more exacting.
Breme: In bodywork manufacturing, the proportion of lightweight components is rising, with concomitantly more stringent stipulations for design work, since the geometries involved are becoming progressively more complex. This demands new approaches for maximised process reliability while at the same time assuring technical availability. New materials are being used in bodywork construction, such as CFRP, sandwich or magnesium sheets, aluminium pressure die-casting and hot-forming.
ETMM: What does this mean for Audi’s toolmaking operations?
Breme: With our equipment portfolio, we’re taking these material-related developments on board, and autonomously design-enhancing our concepts and processes. At Audi Toolmaking, moreover, we run a small-series production operation, and supply the Volkswagen Group with bodywork components and assemblies for high-performance automobiles. Here, toolmaking is likewise facing the challenge of cost-efficiently mastering the increasing number of assemblies against a background of maximised customer expectations.