Sustainability Up, Environmental Pollution Down.

VW Factory in Wolfsburg increases Energy Efficiency with System from WEBfactory

Volkswagen in Wolfsburg uses an energy management system developed jointly with WEBfactory – and has succeeded in reducing the energy consumption of the main plant by 25 percent in eight years. However, this is only one milestone: the automobile manufacturer is continuously pursuing its strategy for greater sustainability in production.

Vehicles must become more energy-efficient if global climate protection targets are to be met. It is clear to everyone that automobile manufacturers will have to reduce the CO2 emissions of combustion engines if they are to do so. But what some people overlook: Every vehicle, whether gasoline, diesel or electric, emits CO2 before it has even driven one kilometre on our roads – through its manufacturing process. For several years now, more sustainable automobile production has therefore been one of the goals of the Volkswagen Group, the world’s largest automobile manufacturer.

Blue Thinking in Production

In 2010, Volkswagen had placed its voluntary commitment to sustainability and environmental protection under the slogan “Think Blue.” In 2012, the carmaker expanded this strategy under the motto “Think Blue. Factory.” to its production. Specifically, Volkswagen undertook to reduce the environmental impact of the production of each individual vehicle and each individual component by 25 percent by 2018 compared with 2010. In these areas: Energy, water, waste, CO2 and solvent emissions. VW has achieved this goal. At the Wolfsburg location, the introduction of a new, specially developed energy management system has made a major contribution to this effort.

Convinced Users

The Volkswagen energy management team planned the design and development of the new system and carefully prepared the roll-out. “There was a major kick-off event, dates for detailed explanations and training courses,” reports Wolfgang Voigt. “The users report many positive impressions back to us, the response to the visual appearance and handling is very good. And the system is being used: If today a meter shows a peculiar load curve, this is immediately apparent, and the employees can react.”. The analyses and reports also make EMS+ valuable. For Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, the new system brings with it a massive change, because EMS+ is a real management tool. WEBfactory is constantly adding new, useful functions to the software. Most recently, for example, an automatic alarm notification was added. As soon as a meter fails, a warning symbol lights up in the system and the responsible employee receives a message.

EMS+, aka i4connected

In order to identify and exploit energy-saving potential, Volkswagen and the software specialists at the German WEBfactory GmbH have developed an ambitious energy management system that has been in use at the Wolfsburg location since January 2015. Within Volkswagen, it operates under the name “Energy Management System+”, in short: EMS+. Under the name “WEBfactory i4connected”, the Baden-Württemberg software manufacturer also markets the system for other companies as a modular component of its industry 4.0 software platform WEBfactory i4.

ISO-Norm 50001 as Scale

The Wolfsburg headquarters continues to be the Volkswagen Group’s largest production plant worldwide. The plant, which has grown historically over more than 70 years, employs around 60,000 people. Around 704,000 cars rolled off the assembly line in Wolfsburg in 2018. As a major consumer, Volkswagen meets the legal requirements to be partially exempted from the EEG levy (Renewable Energy Sources Act). The Group must provide evidence of this: through systematic energy management certified in accordance with the ISO 50001 standard. In an extensive energy audit, TÜV checks every year whether the plant complies with the standard requirements.

A Complex Task

In Wolfsburg, the search for a suitable system began. Wolfgang Voigt of the local energy management team reports: “It soon became apparent that the visualisation of consumption data in diagram form is guaranteed by any standard software that already existed on the market. However, these systems did not master much more.” Due to its dimensions alone, the Wolfsburg plant needs a particularly powerful energy management system. After all, up to 3,800 vehicles can be produced here in one working day.

Above all, we wanted a transparent management system that calculates energy consumption down to cost centre level,” continues Voigt. “This means that every expert can read the consumption of his department or division in the EMS+, which he will later find on the energy cost invoice. And not just for electricity, but for all media used – including heat, compressed air, cooling water, drinking water, and natural gas.” As a result, the carmaker needed a development partner to set up its own high-performance software system. In the end, Volkswagen decided to do this together with WEBfactory.

Industry 4.0 needs web-based Solutions

WEBfactory has its headquarters in Buchen in the Odenwald. The company had recognised very early on that web-based visualisations from industrial production plants would be a necessary basis for industry 4.0. Thanks to its many years of experience, the software specialist is now one of the technologically leading providers of web-based monitoring, management and control of production plants. The web-based SCADA/HMI solution i4SCADA alone has already been installed more than 100,000 times worldwide. Here, Industry 4.0 takes place almost in real time.

Clear User Orientation

At first the VW energy management team and the software specialists of WEBfactory started with the conception and the design development. “It was necessary to clarify how the software had to look so that different users could operate it intuitively,” explains Wolfgang Voigt. “Handling the new energy management system should be equally easy for everyone: for the maintenance engineer as well as for the plant manager and top management in Wolfsburg. The new EMS+ has become so user-friendly not least because the users were directly involved in the development.

Ground-breaking Energy Management System

Thanks to complete web-based operation, attractive user interfaces and terminal independence, location-wide energy management is now as simple as can be. Each of the approximately 300 users see the relevant data – in the form of pre-compressed information and modern graphics. In addition, there are comprehensive drill-down options down to the individual cost centre. The system can also visualise consumption per vehicle or per pressed part at any time. Ad-hoc information and KPIs for a wide variety of consumption types are always just a few clicks away in the greater depth of detail.

Identifying and Utilising Potential Savings

Through EMS+, the energy management team has gained a systematic overview of all consumption in Wolfsburg. With a horizontal breakdown by production level, whether for production site, department or cost centre, the system shows users all figures in evaluated form: in red if the target has not yet been reached, or in green if the figures are within the proverbial green range. Users not only see the consumption of media such as gas, water or electricity in the EMS+, but also possible efficiency measures – thanks to an import interface to the software that Volkswagen uses to collect and coordinate energy-saving measures. In this way, EMS+ also gives controllers a valuable insight into the savings potential that can still be realised. These measures are tracked by savings potential and degree of implementation.

Web-based, Highly Scalable, and Ad Hoc

A further important criterion for the new system was the meter independence, because meters from different systems had to be connected in Wolfsburg. EMS+ therefore has standard interfaces to which measurement technology from any manufacturer can be connected. Only VW’s own servers were considered for hosting the new system. This was due in part to the security requirements and the volume of more than 2,000 meters, which deliver several million measuring points per month. The EMS+ software architecture is based on standard Microsoft database technology. It is highly scalable and allows 24/7 data centre operation and virtualisation. Technically, Volkswagen employees around the world can use the energy management system. Data warehouse technology enables EMS+ to work almost in real time – the system permanently compresses data into information. Ad-hoc analyses are delivered within seconds, as at the push of a button. And thanks to web-based technology, the system can do this regardless of location. In Wolfsburg, the EMS+ is always accessible to users via the intranet.

The new energy management system in Wolfsburg has helped to reduce energy consumption by 25 percent by 2018. The Group intends to continue this development: Under the “goTOzero” vision, Volkswagen plans to reduce energy consumption by an average of 45 percent by 2025.