Today (15 March 2013), Dr Hubert Waltl, the Chairman of the Volkswagen Group South Africa’s Board of Management officially opened the R500 million state-of-the-art Press Shop in Uitenhage.
Over the past five years, Volkswagen AG has invested over R5 billion in the modernisation of the Uitenhage manufacturing plant which makes it one of the most environmentally responsible and energy-efficient plants in the southern hemisphere.
“Volkswagen AG is very proud of what Volkswagen Group South Africa has achieved over the past six decades and today’s opening of the press shop reiterates our commitment to Volkswagen South Africa and South Africa. It also marks the culmination of our investment in enhancing the position of Volkswagen South Africa as one of our key manufacturing plants within the Volkswagen production network,” said Dr Waltl, who is also the Board Member for Production for the Volkswagen Brand worldwide.
Volkswagen Group South Africa is the first manufacturing plant in the Volkswagen production network and in the world to install a press line that combines Wave Motion technology together with the Cobra robotics technology. The continuous Wave Technology, which was jointly developed by Fagor – a Spanish Press manufacturing company and Kuka – a German automation Company, is designed to allow presses to cycle in a wave pattern unlike the conventional press lines in which presses cycle together.
‘The Cobra’ robots get its name from the striking movement of the cobra. The robot moves parts through the press process much faster than conventional systems. This leads to a 30% reduction in energy consumption.
“Apart from being the first Wave Motion with Cobra robotics press shop in the world, the Uitenhage press shop is also the newest and most environmentally friendly press shop in the Volkswagen Group production network. Last year, we launched the Think Blue. Factory strategy within all Volkswagen plants, including Uitenhage. The new strategy will ensure that all our factories reduce their waste, water, energy and emissions by 25% by 2018 from the 2010 levels,” added Dr Waltl.
“I am pleased to announce that this new press shop incorporates most of the Think.Blue Factory concepts and will contribute immensely in helping the Uitenhage plant to achieve its target of reducing its carbon footprints by 25% by 2018. The new press shop was constructed using “green” technology. It was designed to use natural light and has been fitted with intelligent lighting systems with occupancy sensors to monitor movement and lighting. Rainwater harvesting tanks have been installed. Recycled materials were also used during the construction of the building,” explained Dr Waltl.
The new press shop is currently on the ramp up phase and will be fully operational in July 2013. It has press lines that consist of six presses with a total capacity of 81 000kN. At full capacity, the line can deliver 8 541 strokes per day. The new press shop has flexibility to change die in less than 5 minutes through an automated process as compared to the manual process that takes hours to complete.
The new press shop has already contributed to Volkswagen Group South Africa receiving the Greenest Large Manufacturer Award from the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism in 2012 as well as the 2012 Environmental Award from the Eastern Cape Chapter of the Exporters Club of Southern Africa.
Volkswagen Group South Africa’s manufacturing plant in Uitenhage produces right-hand drive Polo and CrossPolo for local and international markets as well as Polo Vivo for the South African market only. Polo Vivo and Polo were the best-selling passenger cars in 2012 with 34 873 and 28 667 sales respectively.
The Managing Director of Volkswagen Group South Africa, David Powels said Polo Vivo and Polo are important models to Volkswagen Group South Africa strategy and play an important role in ensuring that it maintains its market leadership in the local passenger car market.
“Volkswagen Group South Africa ended 2012 as the market leader of the passenger car segment in South Africa for the fourth consecutive year with the total sales of 99 106 units and overall market share of 22.3%. Polo Vivo and Polo accounted for 14.4% of the South African total passenger car market in 2012. This clearly indicates the significance of these two models not only to us as Volkswagen but also to the South African passenger car market,” added Powels.