Bought-in parts arrive at factory, parts are distributed to corresponding work stations within factory, finally, fully assembled cars leave factory. Audi’s supply chain comprises three areas: inbound, in-house and outbound. This was explained by Dr. Michael Hauf, Brand Logistics Manager of AUDI AG at the Hannover Trade Fair in 2017. Together with Prof. Dr.-Ing. Boris Otto from the Fraunhofer Institute for Software and System Technology (ISST), he was presenting a pilot project at the Fair as part of which Audi is organising its supply chain via the so-called “Industrial Data Space”.

The “Industrial Data Space” developed by the Fraunhofer ISST is a protected data space which only certified participants may enter whose identity has been checked beforehand. Every company first defines how its information is allowed to be used. For example, it can exchange data with business partners but always remains in charge of them.

Add value from datade

At the Fair, Hauf outlined how Audi uses this data space. The aim is to guarantee the provision and internal availability of bought-in parts at all times. To achieve this, the manufacturer networks with its various suppliers via the data space and with them defines a set of rules to govern the exchange of data. Hauf differentiates three levels when setting up such an exchange. On Level 0, each participant can only see their own data. The next level is characterised by the bilateral exchange with one business partner. “On Level two, the data genuinely add value”, Hauf explains. The first version of this networked exchange will be available in around 18 months, he forecasts.

His company is currently undergoing the change from car manufacturer to a supplier of mobility, he explains. The aim is to convert engine plants from combustion engines to electric engines. The particular challenge, according to Hauf, lies in the need to continue to operate the old business model and at the same time to establish the new one.

To advance applications of the “Industrial Data Space”, the “Industrial Data Space Association” has been set up which has over 60 companies and associations as members. From the automotive sector, Volkswagen, Bosch and Schaeffler as well as TÜV Nord and Süd have also joined.