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The ŠKODA AUTO After Sales department and ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab are trialling a new smartphone app: “Sound Analyser”. The app uses artificial intelligence (AI) and helps to quickly and accurately identify the need for any servicing. The program records noises made by the respective vehicle whilst it is running and compares them with stored sound patterns. In the event of any discrepancies, the app uses an algorithm to determine what they are and how they can be resolved. In this way, “Sound Analyser” helps to make vehicle maintenance more efficient, reduce the time a car spends at the garage and achieve even higher levels of customer satisfaction. 

Stanislav Pekař, Head of After Sales at ŠKODA AUTO, said, “Sound Analyser is a prime example of the new opportunities digitalisation at ŠKODA can create, even in terms of after sales. We will continue to consistently use artificial intelligence technologies to offer our customers an even more personalised service, thus enhancing the customer experience even further.” 

Klaus Blüm, Head of ŠKODA IT, added, “At ŠKODA, we are consistently looking to comprehensively digitalise processes, products and services for our customers along the entire value chain. In order to be able to recognise the potential of innovations early on, develop them quickly and use them intelligently, we are continuously coordinating with the specialist departments to jointly implement new digitalisation projects.” 

The “Sound Analyser” app uses artificial intelligence to reliably, clearly and quickly assess the current condition of wearing parts and notify technicians of any required servicing. For this purpose, the program considers various vehicle-specific parameters and analyses the usage profile of the respective car. To this end, Sound Analyser makes it even easier for technicians to perform accurate diagnostics on a vehicle as they will only need a standard smartphone or tablet to use the app. 

Although the program is highly complex, its operation is intuitive: the sounds made whilst the vehicle is running can be recorded using a smartphone. An algorithm then compares the recording with stored sound patterns and, based on this, provides a concrete description of the result. The software is already able to recognise ten patterns – with an accuracy of over 90 per cent – including for components such as the steering system, the air conditioning compressor, and the clutches in the direct-shift gearbox (DSG). The app is also set up to recognise further sound patterns. 

Neural network algorithms provide the technical basis for “Sound Analyser”. The app first converts the audio file into a spectrogram that visually depicts the acoustic signals. Using artificial intelligence, this representation is then compared with the stored recordings to identify deviations. To this end, the app categorises the potential need for upcoming maintenance or repairs based on predetermined patterns. 

The smartphone app has been trialled in 14 countries – including Germany, Russia, Austria and France – since June 2019. A total of 245 ŠKODA dealers have been taking part in the pilot project. They are instrumental in providing the audio recordings for the software’s ‘learning process’ and are thus directly contributing to the program’s development. The gradual introduction of technologies for determining any acoustic deviations from the norm will open up a wealth of new possibilities in terms of sensor-based, predictive maintenance in future. In addition, the vehicle’s online connection can be used to arrange an appointment directly with the responsible garage if necessary. 

Artificial intelligence is a key pillar of ŠKODA AUTO’s digitalisation strategy 
Based on artificial intelligence, technologies perform cognitive functions that otherwise only humans are capable of. Such programs can interact with their environment, perceive and weigh up facts, or solve specific problems. As one of the cornerstones of the company’s 2025 Strategy, artificial intelligence plays a key role for ŠKODA AUTO in advancing the levels of digitalisation even further. For the Czech car manufacturer, this includes not only products and processes but also services. AI technologies, for example, help to enable a more personalised customer experience.

Article source: www.skoda-auto.com

Everyone knows the classic computer game where the aim is to drop differently shaped pieces into a given space without leaving any gaps. ŠKODA’s logisticians face a similar task when loading a 40-foot sea container. However, they are now supported by OPTIKON – an app that uses artificial intelligence technologies: the AI app calculates how and in what quantity different pallet types must be loaded in order to maximise the container’s loading capacity. This allowed ŠKODA to save 151 container shipments and 80 tonnes of CO2 emissions in the first six months of 2020 alone. 

David Strnad, Head of Brand Logistics at ŠKODA AUTO, said, “This AI app is a major development step on our way to digitalising logistics and our work processes. The OPTIKON project makes the work of the employees in the parts warehouse easier whilst also lowering our transport costs. Furthermore, it has allowed us to reduce CO2 emissions because we only dispatch full containers now. OPTIKON therefore also has a positive impact on our Green Future environmental strategy.” 

There is an endless number of ways to fit the different-sized pallets into a container, which makes loading a challenging task for logisticians. This is made even trickier by the fact that, every day, the pallets available for dispatch in the parts warehouse are different sizes. The OPTIKON app – which was jointly developed by ŠKODA AUTO Logistics and ŠKODA IT, and whose name is an amalgamation of OPTImisation and the Czech term ‘KONtejner’ – helps to master this challenge using AI. The program calculates how the different pallets must be loaded in order to make maximum use of each container’s capacity. 

Klaus Blüm, Head of ŠKODA IT, added, “OPTIKON illustrates how we use Industry 4.0 and artificial intelligence technologies at ŠKODA AUTO to make everything we do even more efficient. When determining how the respective items should be placed to maximise container space, the app includes up to 400 pallet types in its calculations. Furthermore, the program also balances the weight distribution within the container and checks that the freight will be shipped in good time.” 

The ŠKODA AUTO Logistics department has been using OPTIKON since November 2019, in particular for loading containers that are shipped to Nizhny Novgorod. In addition to body components, production materials such as adhesives are also shipped to Russia from Mladá Boleslav. Using OPTIKON allowed ŠKODA AUTO to save 151 container shipments and 80 tonnes of CO2 emissions in the first six months of 2020 alone. 

In terms of the technicalities, the program uses mathematical combinatorial analysis methods to find various solutions to what is known as the ‘knapsack problem’. It addresses the question of how certain objects can be optimally fitted into a limited space. While the classic knapsack problem only takes into account the weight and value of the items to be packed, OPTIKON also considers the floor space, volume of the freight item and when the goods have to be shipped. 

Artificial intelligence is a key pillar of ŠKODA AUTO’s digitalisation strategy 
Technologies based on artificial intelligence perform cognitive functions that otherwise only humans are capable of. Such programs can interact with their environment, perceive and weigh up facts, solve problems and even carry out creative tasks. As one of the cornerstones of the company’s Strategy 2025, artificial intelligence plays a key role for ŠKODA AUTO in the ongoing advance of digitalisation. For the Czech car manufacturer, this applies not only to products and processes, but also to services where AI technologies help to make the customer experience more personal.

Article source: www.skodagaragelondon.co.uk

ŠKODA AUTO has put a new processing line for plasma coating into operation. This technically innovative concept allows conventional cylinder liners to be replaced with a powder coating that measures just 150 μm (0.15 mm). This will now be used when producing the new EVO three-cylinder engines from the EA211 series and will reduce internal friction. As a result, the 1.0 TSI EVO petrol engines will be even more efficient and boast even lower emissions. ŠKODA has invested a total of around 29 million euros in preparing and converting its Mladá Boleslav-based headquarters. 

Christian Bleiel, Head of Component Production at ŠKODA AUTO, highlighted, “The technically highly innovative plasma coating makes our EA211 TSI EVO engines even more efficient. It reduces friction losses and thus also fuel consumption. What’s more, this type of coating also allows heat to be more evenly distributed within the cylinders and helps it to dissipate more efficiently, thus optimising the thermal load. We produce the plasma-coated engines at Mladá Boleslav in three shifts and are installing them in the FABIA, SCALA, OCTAVIA, KAMIQ and KAROQ.” 

This means that the engines featuring plasma coating are also used in the ŠKODA OCTAVIA e-TEC mild hybrids. The Czech car manufacturer has added an assembly line with two special fixtures for plasma coating at its main plant. Both of these include two torches. ŠKODA AUTO has invested a total of 28.8 million euros in upgrading the plant in this way; overall, the carmaker has spent 69.1 million euros on modernising engine production. 

During the production process, the cylinders are first bored on the machining line. A 1,500-watt laser then abrades the cylinder bores to ensure that the plasma layer will optimally adhere to the surface. This involves the laser beam creating ten grooves per millimetre, each measuring an average depth of 40 μm. This production step takes place in a controlled atmosphere filled with nitrogen to keep the laser’s optics free from contamination and to ensure the necessary level of accuracy. 

A mixture of hydrogen and argon is used to create plasma gas, requiring 4.5 l of hydrogen per minute during the process. The plasma reaches a temperature of 15,000° Celsius and is then mixed with various types of steel that have been ground into fine powder. This powder is made up of iron, carbon, silicon and manganese as well as other necessary elements. The individual powder grains measure no more than 50 μm. When sprayed onto the cylinder walls, the molten powder forms a layer measuring approximately 250 μm. During final processing, this layer is honed out, so that it measures just 150 μm. To put all of this in perspective: the wall of a conventional cylinder liner is 4 mm thick. 

Each cylinder is automatically measured at several stages throughout the process to assess its quality. Optical measuring instruments first record the surface abraded by the laser, before a second measurement is taken once the plasma has been applied. Finally, the structure of the plasma layer is tested using turbulent flow.

Article source: www.skoda-auto.com

Since July 2020, ŠKODA AUTO has been using a robot at its Kvasiny plant to pick starter batteries from the pallets provided and then supply them to the production line just in sequence. This means that ŠKODA AUTO has moved the pick-to-sequence handling of parts – the delivery of the right parts to the right assembly line in the right order – from the warehouse to the production hall, thus making the production process even faster. Kvasiny is the Czech car manufacturer’s first site to adopt this innovative system in warehouse logistics. ŠKODA has invested a total of 450,000 euros in implementing the process and has already filed a patent application for the system. 

David Strnad, Head of Brand Logistics at ŠKODA AUTO, stressed, “For parts to be delivered to the production line just in sequence, a range of highly complex processes need to operate in perfect harmony. By using the new handling robot at the Kvasiny plant, we have been optimising these processes, making production more efficient and thus even more precise and ultimately even faster. At the same time, this Industry 4.0 technology has further increased workplace safety in the factory. And it has made the workstations more ergonomic.” 

In Kvasiny, starter batteries are placed on pallets near the assembly line where they are ready for use when required. This is in contrast to conventional sequencing, which instead sees the batteries being fetched from the parts warehouse when they need to be fitted into the cars. To identify the correct parts for the vehicle that is currently being assembled, a robot scans the batteries using a special camera. It then puts the starter batteries in transport trolleys that carry them directly to the production line. The robot also stacks empty pallets and transport packaging, and can order new pallets containing starter batteries from the warehouse when required. It gets from A to B using mobile lane guidance, is protected by an all-around safety net and is equipped with sensors to prevent collisions with staff or machinery. 

Once a few relatively minor adjustments have been made to its hardware, the innovative handling robot will be able to be used at many other workstations too where processes are carried out using sequencing. ŠKODA AUTO therefore intends to make even greater use of systems such as this in Production and Logistics going forward. The Czech car manufacturer has invested a total of approximately 450,000 euros in the handling robot at its Kvasiny site and has already filed for a patent application for the system. 

ŠKODA AUTO is also testing another new concept at Kvasiny that is designed to further increase work safety at the plant: each forklift truck has been fitted with a tracking system so that the machines can identify other forklifts nearby at an early stage. Workers at the plant wear a special wristband that works using the same principle and alerts its wearer to dangers by vibrating. If the tracking system detects the presence of nearby forklift trucks or employees, the machines automatically reduce their speed and – if required – automatically come to a halt to prevent a collision. An LED light fitted on each of the forklifts also provides information about the density of potential sources of danger in the immediate vicinity. 

The Kvasiny plant is one of the most modern production facilities in the entire automotive industry. In addition to the KAROQ, the KODIAQ and SUPERB model ranges as well as the SUPERB iV plug-in hybrids also roll off the assembly line there. ŠKODA is consistently automating production and continuously implementing new Industry 4.0 technologies at the site. Since September 2019, the Czech car manufacturer has, for example, been implementing ‘dProduction’ at Kvasiny. This system supports the workforce in carrying out manufacturing steps correctly, notifies them of changes to the production process and serves as proof of quality control. In November 2019, ŠKODA AUTO’s dProduction project won the Automotive Lean Production award for the best smart digital application.

Article source: www.skodagaragelondon.co.uk

The launch of the fourth-generation OCTAVIA sees ŠKODA reach new heights yet again: The brand’s bestseller is even more emotive and offers an even greater level of active and passive safety. Furthermore, it comes with plenty of new assistance systems and advanced infotainment. Available with an efficient petrol or diesel engine, or one of three alternative powertrains, the new-generation OCTAVIA is also significantly more sustainable. The OCTAVIA e-TEC is the first ever ŠKODA to feature mild hybrid technology. The OCTAVIA iV and the sporty OCTAVIA RS iV are modern plug-in hybrids and the OCTAVIA G-TEC is designed to run on eco-friendly natural gas (CNG). Thanks to the three sustainable powertrain variants, the new OCTAVIA’s CO₂ emissions have been considerably reduced.

In its fourth generation, the ŠKODA OCTAVIA is once again available as a hatchback and an estate; a rugged SCOUT and three sporty RS versions have also been added to the line-up. Fitted with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive and manual or automatic DSG transmissions, there is an OCTAVIA to suit every ŠKODA customer.

The fourth generation since the modern-day OCTAVIA’s launch in 1996 will further cement the model line as the brand’s heart and engine as well as its top volume model. With more than seven million produced, the OCTAVIA is the bestselling ŠKODA ever and a real icon in numerous international markets. In addition to its domestic market, the Czech Republic, the OCTAVIA tops the bestseller lists in seven other countries, including Poland, Austria, Switzerland and Finland. In its second-largest sales market, Germany, the OCTAVIA has been the most sought-after import vehicle for years. The OCTAVIA COMBI, Europe’s most popular estate, has played a major part in this. 

ŠKODA manufactures up to 400,000 units of its bestseller each year. The OCTAVIA is the brand’s only model to be made in four different countries: it rolls off production lines in the Czech Republic, China, Russia and India.

The reasons for the OCTAVIA’s success story are obvious: In addition to its ŠKODA-typical generous amounts of space and excellent value for money, the brand’s heart and engine provides an impressive level of safety too – as illustrated by its five-star rating in the Euro NCAP tests. In its fourth generation, the OCTAVIA offers numerous innovative safety and assistance systems. These include Park Assist with Area View whose four cameras create a 360-degree image of the vehicle’s immediate surroundings, Adaptive Lane Assist, which is able to identify roadworks as well as conventional road markings, and the Local Traffic Warning function that automatically warns of traffic hold-ups in the car’s vicinity, such as the end of a traffic jam. For the first time, ŠKODA is offering the new head-up display for the OCTAVIA; this projects information such as the car’s speed, navigation instructions, detected traffic signs and activated driver assistance systems directly onto the windscreen. 


The OCTAVIA offers a choice of three infotainment systems from the latest generation with screens measuring between 8.25 and 10 inches. Thanks to a built-in eSIM, the vehicle is always online – thus enabling the use of new ŠKODA Connect online services.

Three alternative powertrains: plug-in hybrid, mild hybrid and CNG

The three letter combinations – iV, e-TEC and G-TEC – make reference to the wide range of new alternative powertrain variants available for the new ŠKODA OCTAVIA. Both the OCTAVIA iV and OCTAVIA RS iV feature plug-in hybrid drive and provide an all-electric and therefore zero-emission range of up to 60 km in the WLTP cycle. The e-TEC designation is new to ŠKODA and is reserved for cars equipped with mild hybrid technology – another first for the brand. The TSI petrol engines in these models are electrified by a 48-V belt-driven starter motor and a 48-V lithium-ion battery. The OCTAVIA G-TEC primarily uses eco-friendly compressed natural gas (CNG). This type of fuel boasts cleaner combustion, meaning that CO₂ emissions are approximately 25 per cent lower than when running on petrol.

Article source: www.skoda-auto.com