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Volvo Group opens EUR 3.2 million Pilot Plant in Umeå

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The Volvo Group has ramped up its focus on product and process innovation in truck cab manufacturing – inaugurating a EUR 3.2 million Pilot Plant at the Group’s European hub for cab manufacturing in Umeå, northern Sweden.  

The investment includes a new 4,000 sqm facility employing six full-time technicians and project planners, with a view to launching cross-discipline R&D projects that can potentially each involve up to 15 team members.

“The Pilot Plant will strengthen the Volvo Group´s ability to manufacture the cabs of the future using innovative technologies. Most importantly, it allows us to tackle production problems in a test environment that runs parallel to operations. This means that we can minimise downtime,” says Mona Edström Frohm, Site Manager and Vice President, Volvo Group Trucks Operations, Umeå.

By testing and evaluating cab concepts and production technologies using robots and sensors, the Pilot Plant will expand on the scope of Volvo Cab Competence Centre, which was located to the Umeå plant in 2015.

Global support – new ways of working
The Pilot Plant will function as a pre-commercial meeting place for technology and problem-solving at the Volvo Group – and as a global launchpad for new product concepts, materials and manufacturing technologies in the stamping, body in white (post-welding) and surface treatment of cabs.

“Our technicians will travel to Volvo plants around the world to support local teams in their efforts to boost efficiency. In some cases, this will mean introducing new ways of working. We are testing and verifying new manufacturing process technology and tools to learn continuously how operations can be improved,” adds Edström Frohm.

The Pilot Plant is an example of the smart industry transformation reshaping worldwide manufacturing, and it is one of many ongoing initiatives at the Volvo Cab Competence Centre. In March 2017, the Virtual Twin Plant was launched as a three-year collaborative project with simulation company Algoryx, Schneider Electric and Chalmers University of Technology, focusing on ways of shortening time to market.

According to Mona Edström Frohm, the plant’s availability of skilled personnel, and cutting-edge technology was a key incentive for locating the Cab Competence Centre in Umeå.

“Testing and validation is now routine practice at the Umeå plant and we have an exciting year ahead. We have received many requests for visits from other Volvo plants and our technicians will also host lab sessions in Umeå to expand know-how within the Volvo Group.”

The Volvo Group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks, buses, construction equipment and marine and industrial engines. The Group also provides complete solutions for financing and service. The Volvo Group, which employs about 95,000 people, has production facilities in 18 countries and sells its products in more than 190 markets. In 2016, the Volvo Group’s sales amounted to about SEK 302 billion (EUR 31,9 billion). The Volvo Group is a publicly-held company headquartered in Göteborg, Sweden. Volvo shares are listed on Nasdaq Stockholm. For more information, please visit www.volvogroup.com.