MARTORELL, Spain—Engineers at a car factory here are using drones to deliver parts to an assembly line operated by SEAT, a division of Volkswagen AG. The autonomous aircraft are currently used to transport air bags and steering wheels.

“[The project is] the first step in transforming the supply chain in the automotive industry,” says Christian Vollmer, vice president of production and logistics at SEAT. “Delivery using drones is going to revolutionize logistics. With this innovation, we are boosting Industry 4.0 and we will become more efficient, agile and competitive, as well as much more sustainable.

“Every time a part is needed on the production line, delivery will be made quickly, thus improving efficiency,” claims Vollmer. “Drones reduce delivery time by 80 percent.

“The addition of drones will improve flexibility on the production lines by connecting the 2 kilometer distance that separates both facilities for just-in-time, fast deliveries in only 15 minutes,” Vollmer points out. “[This] process is currently done by truck and takes 90 minutes.”

“Delivery using drones represents a reduction in CO2 emissions compared to truck transport,” adds Vollmer. “In addition, the drone’s batteries are recharged using renewable energy.”