INNOVATION DRIVES US.
At BMW, innovation in assembly technology provides new opportunities to enhance our assembly system. It enables fulfilment of individual customer wishes, increases the flexibility and quality of assembly processes, and improves overall efficiencies.
In the body shop there are more than 2,000 high-tech precision robots. The impressive Titan robots are Kuka’s first six-axis heavy-duty robots capable of handling 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of payload. Using the Titan robots eliminates the conveyor system for this process area. The Titans pick up the entire underbody and carefully place it in the fixture so studs can be welded on. After the process is completed, the Titan moves the underbody from station to station until all the studs are in place. The underbody process is much more quicker and flexible with the Titans. Plant Spartanburg is one of the only automotive plants in the world using Titan robots.
Assembly and logistics associates are using a wearable technology that makes work for hundreds of associates faster and more efficient. Working with a German startup company, BMW developed a scanner glove to replace the use of scanning guns. The smart glove has a bar code scanner that is comfortably attached to the back of the hand. This was first used at BMW’s Dingolfing plant at the spare parts logistics center. This new innovation enables the associate to have both hands free and is helping to improve efficiency, quality, processes and ergonomics.
BMW Plant Spartanburg was the first automotive plant in the world to use an exoskeleton for overhead work. The current exoskeleton is a wearable innovative vest that significantly reduces stress and fatigue for associates who perform overhead work. This special vest, which is fitted to each individual associate, transfers the weight of the arms to the body’s core, evenly distributing the load to reduce stress. The vest provides arm support that helps elevate and support an associate’s physical arms as he/she works. The associate still maintains freedom of movement and motion while working. There are several other exoskeletons currently being trialed throughout the plant. BMW continues to lead the way in this field.
When the vehicle goes through the paint shop, there are dozens of holes on the underbody that allows the paint fluids to escape during the e-coat/phosphate bath. Prior to going to through the assembly process the holes are plugged in, much of the process is performed by ABB robots.
When the vehicle enters the cell, the robot takes a vision picture of each hole that it’s programmed to plug. The robot checks for the roundness of the hole and makes sure the plug is going into the correct hole. It installs the plug, then takes another picture to ensure the plug has been installed correctly. The robots install between 80 and 95 percent of the 75 holes on every vehicle.