Audi’s production wins innovation prize

“This award is a great honor. It makes clear how important it is to gain inspiration also from other industries, to identify potential innovations for one’s own working environment and to transfer them to Audi’s production world. In this way, we are encouraging our employee’s creativity and strengthening our company’s innovative skills,” stated Dr. Hubert Waltl, Board of Management Member for Production at AUDI AG.

How open are companies for new ideas? How systematically and with which goals do they pursue innovations? Are they receptive to influences from other industries? The Dr. Manfred Bischoff Institute for Innovation Management seeks answers to such questions with its annual innovation study. This year, the focus was on the areas of “Open Innovation,” “Innovations as a Business Model” and “Cross‑Industry Innovation.” Audi’s production was the winner in the “Cross‑Industry Innovation” category, competing against 200 companies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The jury – including Prof. Ellen Enkel, Head of the Dr. Manfred Bischoff Institute for Innovation Management, and last year’s prize winners, J.W. Ostendorf GmbH  Co. KG, Henkel KgaA and Cewe Color Stiftung  Co. KGaA – praised Audi’s production for its interdisciplinary work on innovation management. They recognized that Audi has been encouraging cross‑industry cooperation for many years and regularly promotes the practical implementation of such projects.

The driving force behind this is the Innovation Management department of Audi’s production, which controls the so‑called Production Predevelopment and Innovation Team – abbreviated as P‑VIT. This is where representatives of the production areas and Audi plants initiate new projects and are responsible for their implementation with a close connection to series production. In recent years, they have worked with companies in various industries on both strategic and technological topics resulting in practical implementation. A good example is the cooperation between Audi’s production and Wittenstein, a manufacturer of drive systems and transmissions. This resulted from the “Audi Production Award 2011” – an innovation competition that was organized under the motto of “resource efficiency in production.”

Wittenstein AG came up with an innovative and convincing drive concept for welding guns with excellent prospects of realization. Meanwhile, the two companies have together carried out the technical implementation of the design. In the context of the technology development process, the new high‑speed welding gun is now being further developed so that process times for opening, closing and gripping can be significantly improved compared with conventional welding guns. The goal is to use the new equipment in Audi’s  production processes.

The Dr. Manfred Bischoff Institute for Innovation Management has presented the “Best Open Innovator Award” each year since 2010. In addition to Audi’s production, the prize has been awarded this year also to Dow Chemical AG as “Best Open Innovator” and to BMW AG as “Best Business Model Innovator.” SAP AG is once again the winner in the “Best Innovator” category.