One exemplary idea came from Audi Neckarsulm: in the bodywork shop where the Audi A6 is made, a robot takes roof frames from a drawer, places them on the bodywork and then welds the two parts together. It repeatedly happens that the robot’s arm takes hold of several metal sheets at once, which cannot be inserted and processed correctly. This led to loss of materials again and again, and to maintenance costs at the same time. Several inventive employees at Audi Neckarsulm have now improved this process. The resulting solution is both simple and brilliant: by means of an additional magnetic sensor on its arm, the robot now recognizes that the parts are doubled and separates them with a jet of air. And no more metal sheets are wrongly inserted. In this way it was possible to increase the capacity of the plant considerably. The idea has now been implemented not only in Neckarsulm, but also in Ingolstadt.
Marcus Schulte, head of the Audi Ideas Agency, says, “This is just one idea of many, proving that the theme of ‘living the Vorsprung’ also works in small ways at Audi. The many thousands of ideas that were successfully put into practice last year show that despite the pandemic, or perhaps also because of it, there is great determination in the Audi team to push forward the development of the company. To always think one step ahead is simply part of the Audi DNA.” Klaus Mittermaier, representing the General Works Council of AUDI AG, adds, “It is absolutely clear that Audi means ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’, and this results from the creativity, the commitment and the ideas of employees. No one is more expert at critically questioning tasks and processes, thinking things out afresh, and producing solutions. To improve Audi and to receive the appropriate reward for this is the success story of the Audi Ideas Program.”
More about the Audi Ideas Program: history and international ideas
The Audi Ideas Program promotes and supports the commitment of Audi employees by means of activities, campaigns and events, as well as workshops and individual consultation. A highlight from the Audi Ideas Program in 2020 was the employees’ activity #restart with your idea. This was a call to all Audi employees to submit online their ideas, experiences and possible adjustments resulting from the coronavirus crisis. The questions included, for example, “Can processes and consultation be simplified or expedited because employees have closer digital links through working at home? How might teamwork look in the future, and what measures can be implemented to achieve this end?”
Audi has had an employee suggestion system since 1967. The Audi Ideas Program in its present form has existed since 1994. It is a participatory program that enables all employees to contribute to the further development of their company. In the field of ideas management, Audi focuses on lean processes: the specialist departments responsible carry out a decentralized review of the employees’ suggestions and decide directly how to implement them. An online tool informs Audi employees of the progress of this process and thus ensures the necessary transparency and process reliability. An internal Ideas Agency advises the employees; furthermore, it regularly holds competitions and campaigns. The Audi Group has also established ideas programs at its international sites. The employees in Brussels, Győr, and San José Chiapa submitted a total of roughly 9.600 ideas in 2020, saving more than around EUR 27,5 million for the company.