Hand in hand for a common goal.
The production of a car starts here in the press shop. Every day, we produce over 32,000 car body parts. In the press lines, sheet steel passes through several process steps to receive its final shape. We only use galvanized sheet metal, a first measure to protect cars from corrosion. The presses fully automatically draw, bend and punch the sheet steel in several steps to give it the desired shape. The car body of a BMW 3 Series comprises over 400 different pressed parts – from the tank cap to the side frame. 20 different kinds of steel, ranging in sheet thickness from 0.7 to 2.2 mm, are processed.
At the heart of the press shop is a state-of-the-art high-speed servo press line which works at 17 strokes/minute. This facility processes about the same amount of steel in only twelve days that was required to build the Eiffel Tower.
The workforce of the press shop consists of about 400 highly qualified people in production, quality assurance, maintenance, and logistics.
Press lines are fully automated, and a team of specialists – electricians, mechanics, toolmakers, logistics and quality assurance experts – takes care of the facilities. My colleagues and I steer, program and check the machines and tools as well as pressed parts and their quality. The entire process makes highly efficient use of material, and the recycling rate stands at an impressive 99 percent.
In the body shop, we connect the individual steel parts produced at the press shop to form a body-in-white ready for painting. The result is a highly safe car body with the highest-possible reduction in weight. A car body weighs about 442 kg and consists entirely of zinc sheet. My 1,070 colleagues and I produce about 990 car bodies a day for the BMW 3 and 4 Series as well as the BMW M4 Coupé.
The procedures at the body shop are almost fully automated. Our over 800 industrial robots carry out the highly complex production tasks with maximum precision and place more than 6,000 welding points per vehicle accurate to a tenth of a millimeter. Thanks to the high level of automation, we can produce all vehicle types manufactured at the plant on a single line.
We apply different welding and joining techniques, such as spot welding, soldering, bolting and adhesive bonding as well as the innovative laser welding. Due to their sophisticated design, the intricate processing as well as the high and ultra-high strength steels used, BMW car bodies are among the safest in the global automotive market.
My highly qualified colleagues and I constantly monitor the quality of welding points and ensure the car bodies’ dimensional accuracy and perfect surface quality. In quality assurance, we apply state-of-the-art methods, such as ultrasound, camera and laser technology, as well as traditional test methods using hammer and chisel. On top of that, we are responsible for maintenance and repair of the machines as well as a smooth production process.
A brilliant color, maximum corrosion protection and a supreme appearance: in the paint shop, the car bodies receive their color and shine. A priority here is the application of eco-friendly processes, such as the use of waterbased paint coats and state-of-the-art application procedures. In early 2017 we commissioned a new, highly innovative and, most importantly, resource-friendly paint shop.
On a total of 13,500 square meters, we paint about 1,000 car bodies of the BMW 3 and 4 Series every day. Innovative six-axle robots give us maximum flexibility in terms of paint technology and thus allow us to respond flexibly to customers’ special wishes, such as for special colors or matte paints. In areas that require manual tasks, the ergonomic design of the workstations is a top priority.
The new facility sets new standards, in particular when it comes to resource conservation, sustainability and environmental protection. It applies the innovative, highly efficient IPP (Integrated Paint Process) technology – another important step toward the sustainable production right in the heart of Munich. Compared to the previous facility, natural gas consumption and exhaust emissions have dropped by nearly 50 percent. Energy consumption is also down 25 percent - the equivalent of the average annual energy consumption of 4,000 two-person households.
In the assembly at Plant Munich, we complete about 1,000 cars daily in about 335 work cycles. The top priorities here are the customer’s wishes and individualization options.
Depending on the customer order, assembly calls up the painted car bodies from the high-bay storage unit. This is when the order-based production of the car begins, in line with the customer’s individual vehicle configurations. A challenging aspect of our work is the high number of variants: for the BMW 3 Series alone, we offer approx. 20,000 interior options.
To ensure a safe production process despite this huge number of variants, we assemble modules like the cockpit, front end, seats, doors and drivetrain from the individual parts in separate assembly spaces first before delivering them at the right time and in the right order – just in sequence – to the main line where some of these modules can be fitted fully automatically. At a conveyor belt of about 3,5 kilometers in length, we can work on 535 cars at the same time. High ergonomic standards and tools such as handling devices, roller stools and swiveling assemblies provide us with the easiest and healthiest options to do our jobs. Fitting the engine, transmission and chassis to the car body – a process known as the ‘marriage’ – is the high-light in assembly: the drivetrain gives the individually fitted car body its heart and soul, turning it into a real car. And soon it will be a finished BMW.
In seat production, we make all seats for the vehicles produced at the Munich vehicle plant – several hundred different types in total that vary depending on customer requirements and country specifications, ranging from the base model to various special equipment options and ultimately to a completely customized seat. Customers can choose between different seat options, such as regular or sports seats, with or without lumbar support, and with either mechanical seat adjusters or power seats. A wide range of upholstery options is available as well so that customers can select their personal favorites from among numerous colors and materials, such as fabric or leather. We apply polyol and isocyanate (polyurethane) to produce the foam parts used to pad the seats; these materials are merged in a high-pressure procedure. Depending on the exact mix of these two materials, the result is a softer or firmer foam part. This allows us to achieve the ideal firmness for each section. The completed seats are assigned consecutive numbers and provided to the assembly line just-in-sequence as ‘car sets’ of two seats each.
For decades, the production of engines has been a core competence of BMW, the ‘Bavarian Engine Works’. Engines are a vital element of the proverbial ‘sheer driving pleasure’, combining outstanding driving characteristics with minimum fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
Plant Munich is BMW’s only site that combines automotive core production with engine production. At the same time, the Munich-based engine production has the longest history of the company’s facilities of this kind. We manufacture the entire range of BMW Group engines, from 3-cylinder engines to the high-performance drive-trains for the current BMW M models, as well as the 12-cylinder drives for Rolls-Royce and BMW automobiles.
Before being fitted into the vehicle, each engine undergoes specific test cycles, such as the cold test that allows for a full function test in close to no time and without the use of fuel. The throughput time for an engine is between six and twelve hours. The approx. 450 individual parts needed to make an engine are finely machined with a precision of a thousandth of a millimeter and then mounted. We supply our engines to the vehicle plants in the global production network.
State-of-the-art modular 3- or 4-cylinder engines are equipped to meet the constant changes in legal requirements regarding CO2 emissions as well as the increasing electrification. A remarkable achievement is the significant reduction in weight of this engine generation compared with its predecessor model, namely 30 kilograms for the 3-cylinder and 20 kilograms for the 4-cylinder drive. This way, the modular engine concept makes a valuable contribution both to minimizing an individual car’s fuel consumption and to reducing overall fleet consumption.