Volkswagen plant in Portugal wins lean production award with support from the Mendix low-code platform

Thomas Hegel Gunther, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Plant Manager at Volkswagen Autoeuropa
Thomas Hegel Gunther, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Plant Manager at Volkswagen Autoeuropa

Volkswagen Autoeuropa, a production plant in Palmela, Portugal, and Volkswagen subsidiary, has set an ambitious goal. They want to establish themselves as the leanest and most productive factory in the Volkswagen brand. The concept of “lean production” aims to use production factors, such as materials, economically and efficiently to shorten throughput times, increasing product quality and the flexibility of a company and its processes.

The organisation recently won the “Automotive Lean Production Award” in the OEM category. The award acknowledges the organisation’s innovation in lean production, improvement of value streams, and the high-velocity deployment of many digitalisation projects.

How did the plant manage the feat?

Volkswagen Autoeuropa leveraged the Mendix low-code platform to address software needs within the broader digitalisation initiative. Mendix, a Siemens business, is the only low-code platform designed to address the complexity of enterprise development challenges.

Competitiveness in the automotive sector with low-code

Volkswagen Autoeuropa has been working with Mendix since the start of 2023. The Mendix platform and methodology incorporate the practices of ideation, requirements gathering, and perpetual value assessment, to ensure the delivery of a unified portfolio optimized for value.

Multidisciplinary teams across an organisation can collaborate in Mendix throughout the application development lifecycle. Additionally, Mendix can also easily integrate with different data sources. Mendix offers a single platform experience incorporating native mobile design, cloud-native deployment, data integration, and the latest AI-powered chatbot support. 

Volkswagen Autoeuropa developed a digital shop floor application with Mendix, to make processes more efficient, according to Alexander Heinzel, Value Stream Manager: “The digital value stream monitor that we developed on the Mendix platform shows us the status of our factory with its machines and its system filling along the whole process-chain in real time.”

“The permanent visualisation of the bottlenecks increases the reaction speed and gives us a uniform understanding of the process priorities in order to continuously improve. The use of a low-code platform not only brought us rapid development in a cross-functional team but also gives us the opportunity to make adjustments and changes in the system ourselves.”

The “Automotive Lean Production” award win shows that the many digital initiatives within the framework of the plant’s transformation process are obtaining industry-wide recognition. 

What does this mean for Volkswagen Autoeuropa?

Commenting on the company’s recognition, Thomas Hegel Gunther, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Plant Manager at Volkswagen Autoeuropa, said, “We won in the OEM category. This proves that what we are doing is working. But we are not done – there is room for more improvements, more efficiency, more novel ideas, and new software.”

“We don’t want to be the Volkswagen plant that won a prestigious award, we want to be the Volkswagen plant that sets the bar for successful, ongoing digitalisation. Our goal is to leverage more digitisation potential with low-code to further increase our competitiveness.” 

“Within Volkswagen Autoeuropa’s Digitalisation Program the focus is to build new solutions as fast as possible and to improve continuously in short periods of time from there. Mendix encourages this by providing an easy-to-use, safe, and high-performing platform, where the business can explore their solutions hands-on without losing much time in the specification phase,” said Martin Mikoleizig, Digitalisation Project Leader at Volkswagen Autoeuropa.

What does this mean for Mendix?

Tim Srock, Chief Executive Officer at Mendix
Tim Srock, Chief Executive Officer at Mendix

“What the Volkswagen Autoeuropa plant has accomplished is a great example of digitalisation as a practice and not as a project. We congratulate them on winning the Automotive Lean Production Award in the OEM category, it’s a massive accomplishment. But it’s also exciting to see this award as a milestone in something so much bigger – the organisation’s goal to be leaner, more productive, and more efficient,” commented Tim Srock, CEO of Mendix.

“Volkswagen Autoeuropa has already proven that they can assess and improve complex development challenges – it will be interesting to see how much farther they go. We are excited that Mendix will continue to support their vision,” Tim Srock further commented.

The official award ceremony will take place on 15 November in Munich, Germany. Automotive Lean Production – Award & Study is a cooperation between the industry magazine Automobil Produktion and the consulting company Agamus Consult.