Increasing production efficiency in the automotive industry


The delivery time for a new car is about 4 to 8 weeks. For self-configured new cars, it can take as long as 3 to 6 months – depending on the manufacturer. One of the reasons for this is the large number of variants coupled with rigid assembly line production. The cycle times here are dictated by the longest process. Every car must pass through every station, regardless of whether something needs to be manufactured or not. AGVs (Automatic Guided Vehicles) can provide a remedy, but the planning requirements of the control system increase in the process. In addition, at the end of the day, target quantities are not reached and the reason for this is not known.

Legato Sapient supports you in controlling your processes and identifies downtimes in production almost in real time. This enables the maintenance department to correct errors quickly. Using various analysis functions, the causes of the problems can be quickly determined. This information is then immediately incorporated into a continuous improvement process, reducing downtime and losses and thus leading to better OEE.

Machine data collection in the automotive industry

In the automotive industry, even a machine downtime of just 3 minutes can result in a significant number of cars not leaving the plant at the end of the day due to the short cycle times. So here, every second that helps to identify and fix errors helps.

The added value of Legato Sapient, especially in the automotive industry, is due to the very high level of automation in the industry. The higher the number of connected machines and robots, the higher the probability that a machine will fail somewhere, but the higher the added value if the downtime can be reduced by 10% per failure, for example. This not only reduces downtime at the affected machine, but also avoids idle time at subsequent stations and increases your efficiency.

Why it makes sense to integrate an HMI into a control system

Legato Sapient’s web-based HMI module runs as a browser application and only requires a thin client to communicate with the central server. The on-site operator stations thus require less computing power, which enables the use of significantly cheaper hardware and middleware for the terminals and thus conserves resources.
The combination of Legato Sapient with our web-based HMI module provides a complete picture of the entire process, ensuring a perfect flow of information, a homogeneous system landscape and a “single point of truth”. This increases transparency and the visibility of problems. In the event of idle times in production, the machine operator is thus able to easily identify the cause of the problem.

Automotive HMI
Advantages of a web-based version of the HMI at the control level:

  • Greater real-time transparency across all levels (control level & HMI).
  • Significant cost reduction in hardware and middleware
  • Lower operating costs through the use of an uniform designer, updates do not have to be carried out individually at each terminal
  • Ideal solution for heterogeneous machine parks, as it avoids information differences
  • Higher standardization through one designer for the visualization of control planes and HMI (same object libraries) -> less training for staff and maintenance of libraries
  • Easy access to HMI visualizations in the control level and vice versa

You can read more about the MES software Legato Sapient and the web-based HMI in our FactSheet “Connection between control level and shop floor”.

Download Factsheet: HMI

Seamless tracking & tracing

Last but not least, the warranty obligation in the automotive industry requires seamless tracking & tracing. All parts and relevant parameters of the production chain are automatically recorded and logged in real time, so that in the event of a recall action, even after more than 10 years, it is still possible to say in which cars the defective batch is located. A targeted recall action saves costs and reduces the loss of image.

Reading points such as barcode or QR code are located at the individual stations. Each reading event identifies a vehicle ID, for example. The information is then transmitted to the machine control system and booked via it in Legato Sapient for the tracking & tracing process.

You can read more about tracking & tracing with Legato Sapient in our FactSheet “Quality and Delivery Reliability: The Basis for Customer Satisfaction”.

Download Factsheet: Tracking & Tracing

Other areas of application for Legato Sapient in the automotive industry can be:

  • Paint shop control
  • Material flow control
  • Plant control

More information in general about Legato Sapient can be found in our FactSheet “Digital Manufacturing: Transparency down to the smallest detail”.

Download Factsheet: Legato Sapient

Use Case I: Introduction of a maintenance system at Volkswagen AG in Zwickau, Germany


Every manufacturing company faces the challenge of coordinating and documenting its maintenance activities on a large number of machines. Often, simple Excel lists are used to record maintenance manually. Therefore, a central maintenance system should be introduced.


Process Maintenance Measures
Image 2: Diagram of maintenance tasks process

In order to ensure the simplest possible operation, machine-specific maintenance cards were developed and integrated into the existing Legato control system. These serve as a guide to the maintenance task and, at the same time, as a means of documenting progress.
The team leader, responsible for an area of production, provides the maintenance cards to be carried out directly at the machine and assigns them according to urgency. He receives the information about the type and due date of maintenance from Legato; for example, in the form of a weekly generated report. Legato calculates the due dates automatically, whether counter-based or time-based. After successful execution of the task, the maintenance technician scans the maintenance card and puts it back. Scanning transfers the maintenance to the control system; no further knowledge of Legato is required. This means that it is possible to trace the measures carried out at any time.

Added value

  • Greater transparency in the system – evaluability and traceability
  • Simple, user-friendly implementation with low maintenance effort
  • Uniform structures – regulated and verifiable responsibilities
  • TÜV-compliant – in terms of documentation requirements and certification
  • Considerable paper reduction (paperless production)



Use Case II: Maintenance control station “AGVs” at SEAT Martorell in Spain


With the introduction of the new automated guided vehicles (AGVs), their monitoring was also to be improved.
Previously, when an AGV malfunctioned, the maintenance department was notified manually by the worker via a call to the maintenance manager. As a result, the response times from fault detection to fault rectification were relatively high. In extreme cases, this led to a production standstill due to a shortage of parts.


Monitoring AGVs
Image 3: Monitoring of AGVs

The image shows the tablet on the bicycle of the AGV supplier’s maintenance staff. The graphical interfaces provide full transparency over all transport systems and ensure fast response times of the maintenance staff in case of maintenance requirements.

The controllers (Simatic S7-1200) of the approx. 40 AGVs were connected via OPC. Communication takes place through cyclic polling via WLAN, with each AGV having its own PLC.
This concept was able to significantly increase transparency and thus availability, so that over the last few years more than 300 AGVs have now been connected to Legato across locations. In addition to visualizing the routes, the operating states (messages and process values) of the AGVs are recorded and archived; project-specific reports provide additional key figures.
Legato not only ensures the coordination of the maintenance staff on site. The MES also serves as a central maintenance control center and displays all relevant information on large displays in various hall areas. Seat quickly recognized the potential of the Legato MES, so that it is now also used for other applications (e.g. tracking & tracing).

Added value

  • Faster troubleshooting due to current status recording of the AGVs
  • Optimizations based on key figures and evaluations of fault messages

–> Continuous improvement process, e.g. through route optimization


Have we aroused your interest? Do you also want to benefit from the advantages of Legato Sapient and how it can be used in your company? Contact us today! We will be happy to advise you!

Contact us now


Deep-Dive Content: Whitepaper

We have also compiled further content on the topic of automotive production for OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers in our whitepaper “The Transformation of Automotive Production: What production Managers and Maintenance Managers must pay attention to now”. Find out in the whitepaper, among other things, which are the 3 trends you should keep an eye on or how you can get your production flowing perfectly with MES software.

Download Whitepaper




Stay tuned

Get the free Newsletter.