Audi Reinvents Quality Control In Manufacturing For Electric Cars

Audi e-tron prototype in camo

APR 24 2018 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 11

As the Audi E-Tron prepares for its upcoming launch, the automaker has significantly upped its “digital content,” to significantly reinvent quality control in manufacturing.

According to Autocar, all of Audi‘s 2,800 employees (primarily at the company’s Ingolstadt headquarters) are integrating new practices due to electrification efforts and upcoming vehicles’ changing level of complexity.

Read Also: Audi Promises 310-Mile E-Tron Will Be A Volume Model

The quality department focuses on some 500 vehicle functions, and with the added battery-electric E-Tron, there are 100 computer controls nodes and 100,000 signals to deal with. In an ICE car, this is only about 12,000. Warner Zimmerman, Audi’s head of quality assurance shared:

Audi is going through its biggest change ever as it transitions to become a digital company and quality is one of our core competences, with our customers having expectations for the function, comfort, value and reliability of our cars.

One example is Audi’s use of highly advanced digital technology to assure tight panel gaps. This is now being forwarded to design and development of EVs. Autocar explains:

Currently, a master jig is created 10 months ahead of Job One (the start of production), when production tooling becomes available to fine-tune the body to a perfect panel fit. Audi uses the same 0.2mm tolerance in its interiors, which also have their own master jig. A new bit of kit in the department is an optical jig, built around two 16MPM digital cameras mounted on robotic arms, which can build up a 3D picture of a complete production body in four hours – a 100GB file. The ‘tactile’ scanners of old took 48 hours to do a similar but less thorough job.

Troubleshooting at a whole new level is Audi’s next step. The automaker notes that in connected cars, changes are occurring daily. The team will test about 600 cars, which are constantly sending real-time data back to the team for immediate fixes.

A more digitized vehicle, like the A8, can send as much as 50GB of data in an eight-hour workday, as compared to an entry-level A3 only logging 3GB. With EVs, this number will escalate further. Arnd von dem Bussche-Hünnefeld, chief of Audi vehicle quality said:

The technology is not speeding up development but allowing us to cope with 30% to 50% more data.

So, he’s making it clear that this won’t allow EVs to be produced faster, but instead, better. Just the fact that the battery must be charged (and it’s not a quick process) slows down the testing process as compared to an ICE vehicle.

For electric vehicles, Audi’s primary new weapon of choice is a $1.8-million electron scanning microscope, which can check the finite details of not only paint, coatings, adhesives, and films, but also semi-conductors, chips, circuit boards, touchscreens, and sensors. Senior engineer Stefan Simon explained:

There are up to 8000 semiconductors combined into a vehicle today, and 80% of the innovations are based on semiconductors.

The automaker has also recently cleared Valeo Lidar for use in Level 3 self-driving, which is yet another system that will benefit from the application of that automaker’s new digitized testing procedures.

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AUDI E-TRON

Audi e-tron prototype
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Source: Autocar

Categories: Audi

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11 Comments on "Audi Reinvents Quality Control In Manufacturing For Electric Cars"

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Chris O

“quality is one of our core competences, with our customers having expectations for the function, comfort, value and reliability of our cars”….right, scores of Audi owners will wonder what planet this guy lives on because quality tends to be typical VW: well below average, owners ending up spending loads of cash at the dealers to keep their rides running. Impeccable panel gaps though;)

Tom

One of the great modern mysteries. Owned a 2003 Jetta wagon and then a 2009 Audi A3 wagon which is really a thinly disguised GTI. As superb of a driving experience, overall comfort, huge practicality, efficient, and interiors whose design had no match….and yet….the electronics. Oh my word. Actually the Mexican built VW was good on electronics but bad on several little stupid parts. The European made Audi though? Pages….I could write pages. You never had to worry about what the oil change interval was because you were going to get towed to the dealer before that ever came. What a mess. But yes….panel gaps…what gaps? That was an extraordinarily tight vehicle. Perhaps they could buy Japanese electronics or something. Who in their right mind would ever buy a used Audi whose primary source of propulsion is electricity? That sounds like an absolutely terrible idea.

Broozy

Best cars in the world.
Love my Audi A6 Avant.
Looking forward to the new E-Tron.

Tom

Must still be under warranty.

Harold T

loved my 2004 S4 Avant V8 B6 model. Was in shop for regular service and maintenance required @ $1000-$1500 a visit to the dealer. Great car, expensive, right up to the point the motor blew a seal and piston #8 meet Valve #8 at 6000 RPM and a strong pull from a tollbooth on the I-95 Cross Bronx Expressway. Bricked the car. $15,000 for new motor through Audi. had 97,000 miles on it. Quality, panel gaps, interior fit and finish was great, but Motors, in my opinion not so much!

Willem-Alexander

> $15,000 for new motor through Audi

And to think that EV drive-trains/batteries are expensive!

Stream

My A4 Avant B7 started to have issues electrical mainly right after the warranty expired. Now at 140,000 miles after changing the turbo, a few mechanical things and several electric-electronics components it still runs quite well. But clearly electronics are not their strong point.

Nix

“$15,000 for new motor through Audi.”

That’s actually just the short-block price. The full motor is even more. That would go a long ways towards putting a brand new battery into a 100K+ mile EV.

ekutter

Love how they attribute all of this complexity to the cars being electric, rather than just newer advanced technologies. Most of the advanced technologies could be added to ICE cars just the same, and many are. The reality is that having an electric drive train should make parts of the car simpler. Pretty sure the ability to analyze the paint or the tolerance of the panel gaps has nothing to do with it being electric.

Same goes for all the advance autopilot capabilities. These have nothing directly to do with electric, just that the technology seems to be evolving at the same time as electric drive trains.

Cecil T

Sure, but applying it to ICE doesn’t make a headline in the news with the words “Audi” and “electric” in it. When you’re not doing it, you have to talk about doing it so you don’t seem too far behind.

Nix

“Currently, a master jig is created 10 months ahead of Job One (the start of production), when production tooling becomes available to fine-tune the body to a perfect panel fit. Audi uses the same 0.2mm tolerance in its interiors, which also have their own master jig.”

Frankly I’d rather have them pumping out 10K etrons a month than faffing about worrying about fine tuning 0.2mm panel fit while building dirty diesels instead. They just need to get the heck off their ICE crack habit ASAP and don’t worry so much about trivial stuff.