New facility heralds step-change in Chinese automotive production

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Shanghai-based personal mobility provider Aiways has invested €1.7bn (US$1.9bn) in a smart manufacturing facility for the production of an all-new electric SUV.

The plant in Shangrao, Jiangxi Province, has been engineered to Industry 4.0 standards to ensure outstanding quality and efficiency. At the new facility, Aiways will implement its innovative ‘two factories – one facility’ concept, which it has developed in conjunction with Siemens.

The concept sees a highly-detailed cloud-based virtual model of the manufacturing facility communicate with the physical 420,000m² (4,500,000ft²) facility. Every step of the production process is monitored, with data collected throughout the process and compared to target data in the cloud. This guarantees that even the smallest irregularities can be detected, reported and corrected immediately, without interrupting production.

Technology is used throughout the facility. For example, components are delivered automatically to assembly workstations by optically guided autonomous transporters, whose paths and delivery times are dictated by the cloud-based virtual factory. In the body shop, 410 robots connect chassis components and body panels using innovative techniques that enable Aiways to bond steel and aluminum together, completing 20 body shells every hour.

As a zero-emission vehicle manufacturer, Aiways was committed to minimizing its impact on the environment. In the new facility, every effort has been made to reduce energy use, minimize waste and cut emissions. In the paint shop, the company opted for a patented silane technological process that doesn’t just achieve class-leading paint quality, but also reduces waste by 90%, uses half the energy, and reduces volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by up to 40%.

Waste water from the facility is treated to meet China’s primary standard, rather than the secondary standard currently used by many manufacturing facilities. To further reduce the facility’s carbon footprint, Aiways also undertakes gas retreatment with a 95% efficiency.

Alexander Klose, executive vice president of overseas operations at Aiways, said, “For our products to be competitive globally, we know that quality must be top of the agenda. With our new Shangrao facility, we have embraced the very latest technology to ensure that all operations are carried out with complete precision, and data is collected at every step of the way. The result is not only outstanding quality and efficiency, but a new blueprint for the future of automotive manufacturing.”

The new facility, which consists of a stamping plant, body shop, paint shop, unique battery packing station and assembly shop, is currently able to produce 150,000 cars per year, with output due to reach 300,000 units following the next phase of expansion.

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Matt joined UKi Media & Events in 2014 after seven years of living and working in Dubai. He has been a journalist for over a decade and has worked for a wide range of publications, including Rolling Stone, Time Out, iQ and Loaded. After starting out on the automotive team as deputy editor of Engine Technology International, Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International and Transmissions Technology International, he began editing Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International in 2016, and took over as editor of Tire Technology International in 2018.

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