Munich. By early 2023, the BMW Group will have a digital scan of every one of its vehicle plants worldwide. In this way, the company is systematically merging the real and virtual worlds and tapping into the enormous potential for highly efficient planning of future plant structures and production facilities. “This opens up entirely new possibilities for us to implement both extensive new planning and smaller-scale remodelling of existing structures in a highly efficient, precise and flexible manner,” says Michele Melchiorre, head of Production System, Planning, Tool Shop, Plant Construction at the BMW Group.
Alongside data science and artificial intelligence, virtual planning is a core element of digitalisation within the strategic vision of BMW production: the BMW iFACTORY. The aim is to make planning and simulation of all processes and the entire production system 100 percent virtual. Virtualisation takes planning for all processes to a new level, by enabling collaboration in real time between different locations and across different time zones. “Production planning can integrate the virtual product into the virtual factory at an early stage. This reduces planning effort and capital expenditure and, at the same time, ensures processes are more efficient and more stable during ramp-up,” explains Melchiorre.
For completely new future production structures, the BMW Group will rely on cooperation with NVIDIA and its Omniverse software platform. “We are entering a new dimension of factory planning,” underlines Melchiorre. This means planners can conduct a virtual walk-through of BMW Group plants at any time, from anywhere. They can develop production systems together in the simulated world, compare best practices and share information quickly and easily within the network. “This forms the basis for planning and developing our new vehicle plant in Debrecen in Hungary,” continues Melchiorre: “Today, around three years before the series launch, we are already able to simulate core processes at our future plant virtually.”
The BMW Group is digitalising its existing plants in cooperation with NavVis. The Munich startup is considered one of the world’s leading providers of technology in the field of reality capture and digital twins. Mobile 3D laser scanners will be used to create photorealistic panoramic images, floor plans and scatter plots for all BMW Group vehicle plants, by early 2023, that are accurate down to the last detail, including all building structures, facilities and outdoor areas.
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