Digitalisation is one of the key drivers for change in the automotive industry. The challenge for BMW Group production lies, on the one hand, in mastering and implementing the growing number of digital features in vehicles. On the other, it is also about optimally leveraging impactful innovations in the field of digitalisation to achieve even greater resource efficiency, quality and customer orientation in planning and production processes.
Within the framework of the BMW iFACTORY, DIGITAL is therefore a key enabler for target fulfilment in the dimensions LEAN and GREEN, i.e. for efficient, flexible and resource-efficient manufacturing processes. The three most notable action areas for digitalisation in production are the use of artificial intelligence, data science and virtualisation.
DIGITAL FACTORY/VIRTUAL PLANNING.
Virtual planning of manufacturing processes is an important action area in the BMW Group’s digitalisation strategy. Creating the relevant database for this – especially at existing plants – is a fundamental requirement. That is why, in recent months, laser scan technology has been used for 3D measurement and digitalisation of the entire Dingolfing vehicle plant, as well as other BMW Group plants – scanning around 1.6 million square metres in total. This 3D image of the plant is already accessible to all employees worldwide for their measurement and planning activities and is incorporated into virtual factory planning tools like NVIDIA Omniverse, which are currently being rolled out across the BMW Group and will be used to plan the integration of new models
The BMW Group is proving to be a pioneer in the use of artificial intelligence as part of the AIQX (Artificial Intelligence Quality Next) project. AIQX uses sensor technology and AI to automate quality processes, relying on intelligent camera systems and sensors along the production line. The data they record is evaluated in the backend in real time using algorithms and AI, and employees on the assembly line receive immediate feedback via smart devices. In this way, AIQX can be used to identify variants, verify completeness and detect anomalies in the assembly process. AIQX is easily scalable and currently being used in around 60 use cases plant-wide – for example, to ensure correct installation of door strikers and belts or to check the BMW emblem and model inscription.
In the IPS-i digitalisation project, which consolidates data from a variety of different tracking systems on one IT platform and creates a digital twin of the assembly hall in real time, the number of use cases also continues to climb and has reached about 1,200 in the meantime. Whether using smart scanners and nutrunners, triggering an AIQX inspection or relying on RFID to verify correct assignment of components to vehicles, the basic principle is that all objects involved in the production process, i.e. vehicles, components and tools, can be localised and interconnected through the IPS-i platform. For that, both assembly halls and large sections of the logistics area are now equipped with around 3,000 antennas; more than 8,000 objects have been "tagged" and recorded.