BMW iFACTORY Production Strategy Fully Implemented in China for Building a High-quality Production System

|ChinaNews|Published:2022-12-28 21:01:48

Since the beginning of 2022, BMW Group has used the BMW iFACTORY production strategy in China as an opportunity to build a high-quality production system, promote an electric automotive transformation, and continue its support for intelligent manufacturing and an industrial upgrade of China's automotive industry.

BMW iFACTORY production strategy to promote the high-quality development of the Shenyang production base

As the world's largest market for electric vehicles, China will play an essential role in BMW Group's transformation. In June 2022, Plant Lydia, BMW Brilliance Automotive's production base upgrade project, opened in Shenyang. With a total project investment of CNY 15 billion, the project has followed the BMW iFACTORY concept and is BMW's largest single investment in China. The opening of Plant Lydia officially inaugurates the BMW iFACTORY production strategy in China. BMW i3, BMW Group's first all-electric, mid-sized sports hatchback, was produced in the plant.

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An aerial view of BMW Brilliance Automotive's production base upgrade project (Plant Lydia) [Photo by BMW Group]

A high-quality manufacturing system is a prerequisite for high-quality products. The BMW iFACTORY production strategy represents the group's future and a strategic goal for a worldwide production network that is truly global and integrative leading a transformation in the era of e-mobility. The BMW iFACTORY focuses on being LEAN, GREEN, and DIGITAL in its pursuit of high-quality development in the Shenyang production base.

The concept of LEAN drives BMW Group to be more efficient, precise, and flexible in production. The Comprehensive Measurement Center at Plant Lydia is a good example of the BMW iFACTORY LEAN philosophy. The center has brought a variety of measurement analysis and solution optimization strategies together under one roof. For example, the high-tech geometric optical measurement system (GOM) combines the two stages of body-in-white testing and complete vehicle measurement to ensure product quality.

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GOM carries out a complete scan of the entire vehicle. [Photo by BMW Group]

Digital technologies make the industrial metaverse a reality. Plant Lydia has been planned and built on virtual technology from beginning to end, integrating all the elements of the DIGITAL concept into the BMW iFACTORY strategy. For example, the Industrial Internet of Things has been adopted in the body shop to connect every product, manufacturing process, and employee to achieve high-quality, efficient digital production. The extensive use of artificial intelligence, data analysis, and algorithms has changed decision-making from something that was more experience-driven to make it more data-driven. A computer vision system based on AI technologies has been adopted in the paint shop, taking photos and analyzing the surface of every vehicle after painting. It can take 100,000 photos in 100 seconds and employs machine learning to become more intelligent in identifying tiny surface defects. All of these technologies are made possible by the gigabit broadband and a 5G network that cover the whole plant.

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Automatic, AI-driven painting quality control [Photo by BMW Group]

BMW's Shenyang production base is also concerned with sustainability in production. The site is currently powered 100 percent by green, renewable energy. Covering an area of 290,000 square meters, the production base solar panels are capable of generating 60,000 MWh of power annually, which helps reduce approximately 45,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, equivalent to 4.5 million newly planted trees. Plant Lydia also employs AI technologies to carry out in-depth analyses and optimization of energy and resource consumption.

Quality control of the whole value chain covering the entire product life cycle and service process

A high-quality management system is a key to manufacturing high-quality products. In BMW Group's Shenyang production base, the quality control system for the value chain covers the entirety of the product life cycle and service process.

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The plant's body shop [Photo by BMW Group]

During the development process, over 70 test benches in the Shenyang production base R&D center carry out more than 100 experiments before a vehicle is ready for mass production. At the same time, BMW Group has also put in place rigorous testing on every level from battery cells to the complete vehicle. BMW Brilliance Automotive's R&D center carries out 128 mechanical tests and 994 software function tests to ensure product quality and safety.

In the manufacturing process, the Shenyang production base can boast a unique advantage in the integration of R&D, procurement, and production. When threats to quality are identified in the vehicle production process, the quality control department responds quickly in conjunction with R&D, procurement, and other relevant departments to determine the scope of management and control required on the basis of a risk assessment to ensure that unqualified parts or vehicles are removed from production and never reach dealers.

In addition, BMW's closed-loop feedback mechanism concentrates on R&D, production, and maintenance to provide strong support for product improvement and after-sales services.

Diversified electric products satisfying the specific needs of China's automotive market

Today, BMW Group spares no effort to satisfy the needs of diverse markets and respond quickly to change, and the new BMW i3 model has successfully been put into production at the Shenyang production base.

It is thanks to BMW's manufacturing philosophy and production system that the new BMW i3 has been able to offer 20 high-value standard features that reflect the breakthroughs achieved by BMW's R&D and production capacities.

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The plant's assembly workshop [Photo by BMW Group]

BMW Group has gone beyond the BMW i3: As of 2022, 15 all-electric vehicle models have been put into mass production or pilot production. The next generation of models with a new power train will be put into pilot production in 2024 and enter the market in 2025. BMW Group plans to deliver two million pure electric vehicles to world users by the end of 2025.

"The automotive manufacturing of the future requires a new, holistic way of thinking. With the BMW iFACTORY strategy, we are defining the future of our plants and automotive production and finding answers to the challenges of the automotive transformation towards e-mobility. Through advanced digitalization, sustainability, and flexibility, Plant Lydia will set the standard for the implementation of the BMW iFACTORY strategy," said Dr. Milan Nedeljković, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Production.

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