At first glance, the large video screens are reminiscent of an airport control tower: a map shows the outlines of southern Europe; on the right and left, numbers and codes are updated every second. However, air traffic controllers who handle air traffic don’t work here. Instead, everything revolves around logistics. At its plant in Martorell, Spain, SEAT needs around 16 million parts a day to produce 2,300 vehicles. All data linked to the individual parts are transmitted in real-time to the SEAT Control Tower.
All information – with the push of a button
David Castilla is in charge of the project, which was completed in just 26 weeks. Using an app, he can monitor the exact location of each part needed to make a car. For the first time, SEAT will receive real-time information on material flow or production material consumption. “Information that used to take hours and several phone calls is now updated in seconds,” explains the project manager.
200,000 key figures are updated daily in real time in the Control Tower. The car thus becomes a giant puzzle, each component is important. The aim is to monitor every conceivable parameter – from supplier inventories to processes in transport and logistics centers. The prerequisite for this is Big Data. “Data is our raw material for building digital projects,” explains project manager David Castilla. “So, if data is not good enough, digitization becomes increasingly complex and lacks credibility. Being aware of this and setting up a clear program to ensure data quality is sufficient, contributes to the success”
Advantages for customers
The Control Tower approach is a huge challenge for David Castilla and his team. After all, the system is “a whole new approach to how we integrate digitization into our production processes.” The new approach will not only benefit suppliers in the future, but customers in particular: “We can better control the processes and thus offer better services and new business models,” explains Castilla. What exactly does this look like? Real-time control gives customers direct information about when the car is being built. This allows SEAT to guarantee an exact delivery date. “If we have real-time control over what is happening and when the car will be on the assembly line, we can break new ground in dynamic configuration,” says the project manager.
Higher efficiency, less CO₂
With the Control Tower, SEAT is able to optimize the entire supply chain in real time. An effect that will also benefit the environment. “Many parts are delivered by truck. We want to use the optimal trucks to be able to deliver the parts on time and, for example, further reduce space requirements,” explains Castilla. This is achieved with an app that allows trucks to be geolocalized and interact in real-time. “The app offers the first predictive ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival),” adds David Castilla. In future phases of the project, new weather forecasting methods will also be introduced to offer alternative routes and reduce the time spent on the road.
With this app, David Castilla and his team have secured themselves a place on the shortlist for SEAT Innovation Day, which honors the most innovative employee-driven projects. The SEAT Control Tower is currently still in the introductory phase. However, Castilla expects the first savings as early as next year. Until then, 16 million individual parts will continue to be tracked every day – in real-time.