How are Automotive Manufacturers Combating Supply Chain Issues?

November 15, 2021 by Stephanie Leonida

Leading automotive manufacturers announce plans to transform their manufacturing operations with new equipment, product lines, and 5G communication.

At present, the world is moving into a new digital era with more advanced communications and widespread electrification. Vehicle manufacturers are having to reinvent how their products are manufactured to keep up with market demand. 

Volkswagen has recently revealed plans to improve facility connectivity and productivity with data transmission through enhanced 5G communications. 


toyota manufacturing facility

TMMK’s Georgetown plant will receive equipment upgrades, a new 2.4-liter turbo engine line and will be restructured concerning employment. Image used courtesy of Toyota 


Toyota Kentucky (TMMK) aims to meet customer demand for innovative products (including those that facilitate vehicle electrification) through facility enhancements and operational upgrades, powertrain capability expansion, and change in employment structure. 

General Motors (GM) announces its $46 million investment involving upgraded equipment to its Parma, Ohio, metal stamping operation. This article will dive deeper into these companies and how they plan to combat shortages that are currently affecting the supply chain. 


Toyota’s Transformation Plans

TMMK is funneling an investment of $461 million into three main areas for its Georgetown-based plant. The first area of investment concerns the upgrade of operational processes and other facility enhancements. 

TMMK aims to improve product output, including products associated with electrification, by modifying facility layout. This could help improve operational speed, flexibility and help TMMK maintain a competitive edge as a result. 

The Toyota plant also plans to increase its powertrain product offering with a 2.4-liter turbo engine line. This move is intended to provide a greater vehicle product range to meet market demand in North America.

TMMK is also changing the way it hires staff. Around 1,400 variable team members currently employed through Kelly Services will be offered a direct Toyota position, along with all new hires. The plant wishes to create a more inclusive environment and retain top talent.


Volkswagen Brings in 5G

In addition to Toyota, Volkswagen is also on the move to enhance data transmission between its robots, machines, and systems at its Wolfsburg plant. The company is looking to reduce latency (or data transmission time) by using 5G communications to transmit data in as little as one millisecond. Gigabit transmission rates for data can be achieved, and greater reliability concerning connection is also possible with 5G.

Finnish telecommunications group Nokia will be supplying network equipment for Volkswagen’s 5G pilot network at its Wolfsburg manufacturing site. The company will be using a radio frequency of 3.7 to 3.8 GHz with 100 MHz bandwidth used by the Federal Network Agency.



A diagram showing how 5G works within Volkswagen's vehicles. Image used courtesy of Volkswagen 


At the Transparent Factory, a pilot factory for Volkswagen’s Passenger Cars brand, a 5G island has been integrated into operations. The use of 5G is being tested concerning factory system control. 

Porsche, Audi, and the Dresden University of Technology are working together to develop networked control for a driverless transportation system that uses sensors to transmit environmental data. 5G would be used to transmit the data to the cloud. The capabilities of 5G enable route calculation to an ID.3 body and the sending of data from this source in real-time.


General Motors Upgrades Manufacturing Equipment 

GM’s Parma plant, Ohio, is used for the company’s metal stamping operations and assemblies. The company just announced plans to invest $46 million to update the equipment and other aspects of the site. 

In a recent news release, GM Vice President of North America Manufacturing and Labor Relations, Phil Kienle, said, “Our Parma operation is a longtime leader in metal stamping capabilities and this investment reflects our confidence in the employees at Parma.” Kienle added, "This investment will help the Parma team continue producing high quality, sheet metal stampings for a variety of future GM products."

GM’s investment is also intended to provide job security to its employees at Parma.

These companies are hopeful that these steps will help them streamline their manufacturing operations amid supply chain disruptions.