Top 10 digital factories: BMW
Opening up a world of...
Featuring in our Top 10 digital factories, we look at how BMW Group is adopting industry 4.0 solutions to digitalise production.
Opening up a world of opportunities for BMW Group, Industry 4.0 within its production system enables “fulfilment of individual customer wishes and enhances the flexibility and quality of production processes.”
The group is driving modernisation within its production by digitalising its systems via four key technology clusters: smart data analytics; smart logistics; innovative automation and assistance systems and additive manufacturing.
This digitalisation and innovation is impacting the entire BMW Group production value chain. “From press shop to body shop to paint shop, from assembly to logistics – every stage of production benefits from the use of digital processes,” comments BMW Group.
Smart data analytics
Smart data analytics - the capability to capture and evaluate data to improve processes. BMW Group harnesses this technology in a number of ways including:
Algorithm analysis of thousands of bolted connections in when a vehicle is assembled providing an important input for more reliable identification of errors before they occur.
Harnessing the capability of virtual reality, creating a 3D environment in real-time. The virtual spaces and scenarios are used to optimise processes and safety.
Utilising intelligent data analysis to help improve quality across the entire value chain. With this analysis of data, the group can expand process specifications to include a subjective analysis.
By harnessing smart data technologies and real time information for its entire supply chain, the BMW Group is striving to develop ground-breaknig systems for smarter and more flexible logistics operations.
“The focus is on applications such as logistics robots, autonomous transport systems at plants and digitalisation projects for an end-to-end supply chain,” comments BMW Group.
How BMW Group is harnessing technology within its logistics:
Autonomous tugger trains: used in assembly logistics, these robots use laser signals to navigate independently through production halls.
Smart transport robots: these robots are able to transport components weighing up to 0.5 tons independently. The technology uses wireless transmitters to determine their location, and can calculate the best route to the desired destination. These transport robots are also powered by recycled BMW i3 batteries with a capacity to drive for eight hours.
Connected distribution: via the group connected distribution network, vehicles send and receive information relating to their route from plant to dealership. When it stops the vehicle relays its geolocation and status to the logistics centre.
When it comes to innovative automation, BMW Group strives to use intelligent solutions to relieve employees, complementing human flexibility and sensitivity with the strengths of robots.
How BMW Group is harnessing innovative automation:
Collaborative lightweight robots: BMW Group's collaborative robots work alongside employees, performing strenuous and high-precision tasks. Its lightweight robots are extremely versatile, however their speed is limited and they can come to a standstill if any dangers arise.
Exoskeletons: like a second skeleton, these types of robotics work as an external support for the body, strengthening employee legs, arms or back.
Dating back to 1990, BMW Group has been prototyping additive manufacturing (3D printing), and has continued to develop this technology. With the use of additive manufacturing methods, production times for parts will further shorten, as well as providing greater potential for more economical and flexible production, and individualisation of components.
How BMW Harnesses additive manufacturing methods:
The additive manufacturing centre: located at BMW Group’s research and innovation centre (Munich), the additive manufacturing centre handles almost 25,000 prototype orders, building over 100,000 components a year. Alongside BMW i Ventures, the centre is also investing in start-ups and new companies to develop ground-breaking technologies.
Series components: in 2010, BMW Group completed its first successful use of the technology in a small series production for water pump wheels within its DTM vehicles. Other series components include a 2012 production for plastics parts in Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, and in 2017 for metal parts in the BMW i* Roadster.
Customised assembly aids: BMW Group has not only harnessed this technology for production parts, it has also utilised 3D printing to produce individual thumb supports to relieve employees working in vehicle assembly to avoid excessive strain on the thumb joint.
For more information on manufacturing topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Manufacturing Global
Image source: BMW Group
Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.