Monday, August 8, 2022

Electrifying luxury: Production launch of the new BMW 7 Series in Dingolfing

+++ Fully electric BMW i7* and highly efficient combustion-powered
variants launch simultaneously +++ Over €300 million invested in Lower
Bavarian site +++ One in four BMWs from Dingolfing already electrified
+++ Consistent implementation of BMW iFACTORY +++ Piloting automated
driving in production environment +++

Dingolfing. The first series-produced vehicles of the
new BMW 7 Series have today rolled off the production lines of BMW
Group Plant Dingolfing. In fact, today was a double debut, with the
new top-of-the-range BMW manufactured not only with highly efficient
combustion engines but also as the fully electric BMW i7. Milan
Nedeljković, BMW AG Board Member for Production: “Our new BMW 7 Series
is the first luxury sedan in the world to offer customers a choice
between three types of drive. Whether fully electric,
combustion-powered or, soon, plug-in hybrid, we have the flexible
production structures and outstanding integration skills we need to
manufacture such a diverse range of drives efficiently.”

Over €300 million invested in Dingolfing vehicle plant

The BMW Group invested over €300 million to ready the Dingolfing
vehicle plant for production of the new BMW 7 Series. As it strives
consistently to implement the BMW vision of production of the future,
its largest European plant is increasingly being transformed into a
BMW iFACTORY practising the ‘Lean. Green. Digital.’ approach. For the
first time, the BMW Group is piloting automated manoeuvres within the
production environment by just-made BMW 7 Series vehicles – and
optimising assembly and outbound logistics processes as a result.




BMW i7: The latest milestone on the road to e-mobility in the
luxury segment

With production under way, once sales organisations have been
provided with the show and demonstration vehicles they need, the new
BMW 7 Series will be available to customers worldwide in the autumn of
this year. The BMW i7, especially, marks the next step in the BMW
Group’s electromobility campaign for the luxury segment, which
Dingolfing has come to symbolise. Board Member Milan Nedeljković:
“Exactly a year ago, we were here to celebrate the start of production
of our BMW iX. Today the BMW i7 is the latest milestone on our
journey. Next year will see the launch of the fully electric variant
of the BMW 5 Series as we step up the pace of electromobility and
electrify our core model series.” By the end of 2022, one in four BMWs
leaving Dingolfing is already expected to incorporate an electric
drive, rising to approx. 50 percent of the plant’s total output by the
middle of this decade, according to current plans.

100 percent exchange flexibility between different types of drive

The new BMW 7 Series is assembled on the same line as the BMW 5
Series, 8 Series and the fully electric BMW iX. “We are 100 percent
flexible and able to switch between drive variants for the BMW 7
Series,” explained Christoph Schröder, Plant Director. “This means we
can manufacture completely in line with demand for the various drives
and use our plant capacity as fully as possible.”

BMW 7 Series benefits from product and process modules of the

The new BMW 7 Series builds on various technology modules of the BMW
iX – not just for individual features like the onboard network
architecture, user interface and driver assistance systems but also in
terms of production and validation processes in assembly, for which
the BMW iX was the trailblazer. Examples include the redesigned
aggregate fitting station, sling loop assembly, test rigs for driver
assistance systems and the new finish process, which is now even more
efficient throughout, from first ignition to the vehicle dispatch
area. The BMW iX is currently one of Dingolfing’s most successful vehicles.

Re-using systems, plus the special two-tone paint process

Converted during production shutdowns, the bodyshop was able to
integrate the new BMW 7 Series into the structures previously used to
manufacture the model’s predecessor. By adapting and re-using systems
in this way, the BMW Group has saved hundreds of millions of euros and
a wealth of resources. The floor assemblies of the new BMW 7 Series
have distinct geometries and vary in part, depending on the type of
drive, yet they can all be manufactured completely flexibly in any
combination on one and the same main production line. In addition,
automation – in door fitting, for instance – and a reduction in
material combinations and the bonding processes required have made
processes more efficient. In the paintshop, a special process has been
established for the exclusive two-tone paintwork of the new BMW 7
Series, melding techniques from series production with the manual
painting skills of the Dingolfing specialists.

Inhouse production of e-drive components

The e-drive components of the BMW i7 – specifically the high-voltage
battery and highly integrated electric drive – are also made in
Dingolfing. Like those of the BMW iX, BMW i4 and BMW iX3, they are
manufactured nearby, in the BMW Group Competence Centre for e-Drive Production.

Recently the Competence Centre launched two new production lines,
enabling the facility to produce sufficient e-drives for more than
500,000 electric cars a year. The workforce has also increased, from
approx. 600 in early 2020 to over 2,300 today.

“The transformation to a BMW iFACTORY is well under way”

“With their breakthrough technologies, vehicles like the BMW 7 Series
are catalysts for change – including in our plants,” emphasised Milan
Nedeljković, pointing out that they involve innovations not only in
the product but also in production. “Dingolfing’s transformation into
a BMW iFACTORY is well under way,” added Christoph Schröder. “We have
hundreds of employees working to make our plant more efficient,
flexible and sustainable, with effective innovations and
digitalisation solutions as the key drivers of progress.”

The Lean. Green. Digital. approach of the BMW iFACTORY is already a
reality in the production halls of Plant Dingolfing.

Lean. Flexibility and the widespread rollout of smart
logistics solutions

The aspect of Lean is being realised at Plant Dingolfing to a large
degree by the flexible layout of production structures. “Our
structures give us the exchange flexibility we need to switch between
different models and drive types, the volume flexibility to react
quickly to radically fluctuating demand, and the order flexibility to
accommodate the last-minute changes customers can request up to just a
few days before their car is produced. Here in Dingolfing, flexibility
is simply a part of our DNA,” said Christoph Schröder.

Another example of how digitalisation supports the efficiency goals
of Plant Dingolfing is the comprehensive rollout of smart logistics
solutions. Dingolfing is the company pioneer in this regard, operating
not only automated forklifts but also autonomous tug trains, automated
outdoor logistics solutions and smart transport robots (STRs) that
carry parts to the line-side. Made by the BMW Group subsidiary
Idealworks, STRs are expected to more than double in number to over
200 by the end of 2022 as series production of the BMW 7 Series ramps
up. “Thanks to flexible, automated solutions like this, we have become
extremely efficient at managing the complexity and myriad part numbers
we work with here at the plant,” said Schröder.

Green. Investing in sustainable production

The Green aspect of the BMW iFACTORY and sustainable production in
Plant Dingolfing is realised by a range of measures. These include
sourcing 100 percent green energy, re-using several hundred existing
production robots in the bodyshop, and reducing the consumption of
resources in the paintshop. Here, investments of over €50 million are
currently being made in new cathodic dip lines and a dry separation
system, which will save significant amounts of water and energy. In
addition, the waste heat from the drying furnaces will no longer be
used purely as process heat but also to generate electricity.

Other facets of sustainable production include energy-efficient
systems, packaging planning, traffic logistics, recycling and water
management. On-site transportation, for example, is carried out by
electric truck. Also, Dingolfing currently has a recycling quota of
more than 90 percent and an even higher re-use quota of more than 99
percent. In 2021, this sent total residual waste tumbling to just 580
grams per car produced. And when it comes to water, Dingolfing
currently covers 40 percent of its needs by drawing on its own source,
thereby helping to preserve the region’s drinking water supplies as well.

Digital. Automated quality control by cameras with AI

Intelligent digital solutions are used in all areas of production at
BMW Group Plant Dingolfing, but especially in vehicle assembly – be it
for virtual training, smart scanners, automated AI-based quality
control or automated driving by freshly manufactured vehicles.

When it comes to AI, the BMW Group has proven its pioneering
credentials with its AIQX (Artificial Intelligence Quality Next)
project, which uses sensors and AI to automate quality processes.
Smart camera systems and sensors embedded in the production lines
record data for backend evaluation in real-time using algorithms and
AI. Feedback is then sent directly to employees on the line, via their
smart devices. AIQX can be used to determine variants, verify
completeness and detect any anomalies that may have occurred during
fitting. It is currently operating in 40 applications in production of
the new BMW 7 Series.

The launch of the latest vehicle has also boosted the number of use
cases of IPS-i. This digitalisation project uses an IT platform to
converge data from a wide range of location systems and generate a
digital twin in real-time of the assembly hall. From the use of smart
scanners and screwdrivers to RFID-based verification of the allocation
of parts to vehicles, the IPS-i platform provides the basis for
locating and interconnecting every item – every vehicle, component and
tool – involved in the production process. With the new BMW 7 Series,
RFID-based component tracing alone has been extended to 45 different
part families.

BMW 7 Series pilots automated driving within plant

Production of the new 7 Series also uses a digital innovation with
major potential for assembly and outbound logistics in BMW Group
plants and distribution centres: automated driving in-plant
(‘automatisiertes Fahren im Werk’, AFW). As part of the digitalisation
strategy, the AFW project will be piloted in Dingolfing from July and
sees newly produced BMW 7 Series drive automatically along a 170-metre
route from the first ignition and initial testing area in assembly to
the finish area in the plant. The same method will be used to get
vehicles from the end of the finish line to the dispatch area.

The AFW project was developed by the BMW Group and the two startups
Seoul Robotics and Embotech, who provide the software and technology.
Project manager Sascha Andree explained: “Automated driving within the
plant is fundamentally different from autonomous driving for
customers. It uses a completely different system. So instead of
relying on the vehicle’s sensors, it uses an infrastructure outside
the car to enable environment recognition and plan the vehicle’s
movements.” The route through the logistics areas of the plant is
fitted with sensors that use Seoul Robotics software to generate data
for vehicle localisation and environment recognition. Further
externally based drive-planning software, by Embotech, then steers,
brakes, accelerates and parks the driverless vehicles by sending them
the relevant commands.

AFW is expected to be piloted until 2023 and will initially be rolled
out on other models at Plant Dingolfing as well.

Dingolfing – Home of the BMW 7 Series since 1977

Plant Dingolfing, in Lower Bavaria, has been the home of the flagship
BMW 7 Series since 1977 and is now manufacturing the seventh
generation. It is the BMW Group’s lead plant for large BMWs and has
extensive expertise in production launches as well as decades of
experience in the manufacture of premium vehicles for the luxury
class. To date, Plant Dingolfing has manufactured a grand total of
more than 11 million BMW cars, and a further production milestone is
on the schedule this year: the two millionth BMW 7 Series.

BMW Group Plant Dingolfing – Key facts.

Plant Dingolfing is one of the BMW Group’s more than 30 production
sites around the world and its largest in Europe. Every day around
1,600 BMW 4 Series, 5 Series, 6 Series, 7 Series, 8 Series and
all-new, fully electric BMW iX vehicles roll off the production lines
in car plant 02.40. In 2021, annual output totalled some 245,000 units.

The site currently employs approx. 17,000 people. It is also training
about 850 apprentices for 15 professions, making it the largest
training organisation in the BMW Group.

Dingolfing manufactures not only cars but also vehicle components,
such as pressed parts and chassis and drive systems. Located in
component plant 02.20 is the BMW Group’s Centre of Competence for
E-Drive Production, which provides BMW vehicle plants around the world
with electric motors and high-voltage batteries for plug-in hybrids as
well as fully electric models. It is under constant development and
currently employs over 2,300 people.

In addition, Dingolfing creates the bodies-in-white of all the
Rolls-Royce models. It is also home to what’s known as the Dynamics
Centre, a large storage and trans-shipment point and the centrepiece
of central aftersales logistics at the BMW Group, supplying BMW and
MINI trading organisations with original BMW and MINI parts and accessories.

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