With digitalisation and changing consumer habits, displays in vehicle interiors are growing to new dimensions. Some vehicles now are equipped with integrated displays that cover the entire width of the interior. The growth of display solutions thus follows the interaction between the driver and front passengers with the vehicle: it shifts from several small, decentralised screens to one large, integrated display from A-pillar to A-pillar.
To meet the automotive industry’s demand for such huge display panels, electronics supplier Continental has expanded its Romanian site in Timisoara into a megafactory. Continental has recently received major orders for large-scale display solutions worth more than two billion euros from international vehicle manufacturers. The total value of incoming orders for display solutions with a series start after 2022 is thus over seven billion euros.
Among other things, innovative solutions for a positive user experience such as displays are produced. The company has invested around €40 million in expanding the production area by 60 % to 18,000 square metres.
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With the expansion, Continental is bundling production capacities and competencies at a central location. With its megafactory strategy, the technology company is continuing to drive forward the paradigm shift in the production of user experience technologies for vehicles. The centralisation creates major advantages both economically and technologically. Especially large display solutions in C- and L-shapes or from A-pillar to A-pillar require centralised production to enable the extremely complex manufacturing quickly and in the highest quality.
“What used to be the horsepower under the bonnet is now the user experience,” says Philipp von Hirschheydt, head of the User Experience business unit at Continental, explaining the change in customer requirements. “The way we interact with the vehicle, connect, communicate, relax, be informed or entertained, is becoming the decisive criterion when buying a vehicle. In order to meet the growing demands of our customers, we are striving for the highest level of digitalisation, standardisation and automation – and this is what we are doing with our new megafactory in Timisoara. We are bundling our competencies for products and technologies in this plant.”
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The Continental Automotive plant in Timisoara claims to be a pioneer for digitally linked production technologies. With its focus on employees, standardisation, automation and digitalisation, the expanded plant is intended to cover all the important topics of future mobility. At the same time, Continental wants to use the expansion to future-proof its display production worldwide. In particular, the automation of simple tasks leads to a higher production speed. At the same time, standardisation ensures higher and consistent quality. In combination with the focus on digitalisation, the expansion should achieve competitive advantages in the production of complex display solutions. To this end, the production experts are relying on numerous innovative technologies such as virtual reality for line planning as well as production simulation and optimisation. Augmented reality is used for maintenance and product development. This leads to cost savings and increases quality. Artificial intelligence and robotics support the skilled manufacturing workers for whom Continental creates an attractive and sustainable workplace.
Continental’s electronics plant in Timisoara produces not only large display panels, but also, for example, airbag control units, electronic parking brakes, control units for air suspension, damping and vertical stabilisation, power steering control units and head-up displays, Continental added.