IT by Audi
Audi is a leading brand in all categories of automotive technology. A key reason for this excellence is the Company’s wealth of IT knowledge, which has come to be a core area of expertise for Audi. New information technologies ensure the development and production of top-quality vehicles and allow employees to network globally. They likewise make vehicles – and the prospect of buying one – even more appealing.
Audi’s IT expertise is a cornerstone of the high quality which distinguishes the brand. That is true of Technical Development at Audi as it is of the eight production sites and more than 100 markets in which Audi sells its vehicles worldwide. Without the comprehensive management of processes and systems – and without the utilization of virtual reality and augmented reality – Audi could not have grown so rapidly in recent years nor hope to continue growing in the years to come.
Our paperless production project at the Ingolstadt plant – a system slated to supersede decades of building certificates and inspection tags – is just one project being pursued by Audi’s IT department, which employs some 600 people in Germany. This system processes information from Technical Development, the Pre-Series Center and Planning to optimize control of machines and plants. Paperless production enables Audi to further optimize workstations and workflows, in turn boosting anew quality and efficiency at Production.
Most of the 64,000 people working worldwide for Audi network via IT. They can communicate in real time to share knowledge and swap expertise. Many of them can tailor their work to suit their personal preferences; working in virtual project rooms allows for mobility and flexibility. In this regard, Audi is molding the workplace of tomorrow.
Audi’s in-house social networks also break down the barriers which have traditionally separated business divisions to identify and promote innovations as well as realize them in our vehicles – in cooperation with external partners, too. A future addition to the interactive staff portal will comprise a new social network which allows experts to collaborate even more flexibly. It will further propel Audi toward an identity of “Enterprise 2.0.”
Apps for customers
Flexibility and mobility are of paramount importance to all IT endeavors at Audi. That includes providing employees with the latest smartphones and supplying apps to end customers. Audi’s very own App Center – created within Audi’s IT department in 2011 – plays a pivotal role in conceptualizing, developing and releasing apps.
Audi currently offers over a dozen apps for iPhones, iPads and Android smartphones to make life easier for customers. Just one example is the A1 app, which enables a mobile device to fetch operating instructions via augmented reality – thus rendering large handbooks obsolete. Audi maintains an impressive presence in key social networks. At the end of 2011, there were 5.6 million Facebook fans and 230,000 Twitter followers. Audi videos on YouTube registered more than 26 million views and over two million people visited www.audi.de in January 2012 alone.
Regarding communications between the brand and its customers, Audi IT services play a role from the very beginning: the moment people enter an Audi dealership’s showroom.
They can use a computer to configure their very own Audi and then admire high-resolution 3D images and remarkable computer-animated films of it – including any specified colors, materials and items of optional equipment. If they preconfigured a car before arriving, then the showroom configurator will display it in full HD. The 3D configurator is available in 18 European countries; more countries will be added.
Audi’s IT department is also on the job whenever an Audi driver requests certain Audi connect services such as weather information or the news. Such requests are transmitted via the mobile communications network to back-end servers in Ingolstadt, which identify the vehicle in question. Requests are then forwarded to content providers, which in turn deliver data directly to the customer’s vehicle.
Audi has already begun managing Audi connect data with cutting-edge precision. This is particularly intriguing in terms of the wireless use of media data via cloud computing, which Audi refers to as “seamless media.”
A provider can stream such data – for an audio book, for instance – via Audi servers to customers. The same Audi servers allow the customer to pause and resume playback whenever they wish. Audi is currently considering the option of itself handling all aspects of “seamless media.”
Audi’s modular back-end platform
Behind the scenes of all these innovations is a concept at Audi IT referred to as Audi’s modular back-end platform. It not only provides an online connection between every Audi worldwide and Audi’s computing center but also integrates a standardized interface to innovative content providers around the world. Audi works with a multitude of partners to provide customers with computing-center services and cloud services.
Going forward, Audi’s modular back-end platform will enable customers to tailor Audi connect services to their personal preferences.
The vehicles of tomorrow will be able to identify drivers the moment they get into the car and provide them with a customized portfolio of data – such as their most frequent navigation destination or favorite music. No matter what, Audi will always strictly comply with all data protection and data security regulations to ensure that customer data remain secure.
IT endeavors with respect to Audi connect are facilitating new ways of working. Development cycles which have traditionally lasted years are being shortened to mere months. Audi consequently ensures that its customers can always enjoy the latest trends in their vehicles.
New computing center
In light of all these developments, Audi is rapidly expanding its IT facilities. There are already three computing centers on plant premises in Ingolstadt. They comprise some 3,000 servers, which collectively coordinate around 500 applications and provide approximately 6,000 terabytes of storage space. Audi’s IT department attends to some 50,000 Windows users, 54,000 e-mail inboxes and 8,000 databases.
A new computing center will become operational in just a few months. Encompassing two underground levels of the recently constructed SE Forum (SE = Simultaneous Engineering) in the northern sector of plant premises, this new computing center offers 2,000 square meters (21,528 square feet) for IT equipment. As many as 6,000 servers and network components will be interconnected via some 3,000 km (1,864 miles) of fiber-optic cables and 70,000 plugs. The overall power consumption of all IT systems in the new computing center is estimated at 4 megawatts.
This tremendous computing power notwithstanding, energy consumption at the new data center will be kept relatively low. Audi will rely heavily on energy-efficient techniques such as indirect evaporative cooling. This technology will utilize outside air to regulate the temperature inside the computing center for six months every year.
An active power management system featuring some 15,000 measuring points is expected to help reduce annual energy consumption at IT by about 35 percent – a CO2 equivalent of 9,000 metric tons every year.
Not only IT is expanding at Audi; all other departments are also growing considerably. This necessitates additional staff. After hiring some
3,500 newcomers in 2011, the brand is looking to hire another 1,200 experts this year – especially in the fields of electric mobility, ultra lightweight design and Audi connect. CeBIT visitors interested in electrical engineering, electronics, IT and vehicle engineering can speak with Human Resources representatives from Audi about options such as trainee programs and employment opportunities.
The equipment, data, and prices specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.