BMW speeds production ramp-up of new models by means of VR

BMW speeds production ramp-up of new models by means of VR

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Months before the start of production of the first new BMW 3 Series, production planners had already completely worked out individual assembly workstations – in a virtual world. For example, in cockpit pre-assembly, the place where the vehicle’s cockpit is assembled before it is installed in the vehicle. For the first time, the planners for buildings, systems, logistics and assembly, together with production staff, were able to assess the new production area completely virtually and test the new processes in 3D.

Matthias Schindler, responsible in the BMW Group for virtual planning and commissioning in production: “Virtual reality technology has enabled us to design the cockpit pre-assembly workstations quickly and efficiently. Time-consuming test setups, which simulate the entire size of the workstation, were no longer necessary. All the departments involved, from the logistician to the plant planner to the production employee, were able to exchange ideas early on and in an uncomplicated manner. This made us more transparent, more flexible and faster.”


Virtual representation of an assembly working place
amidst a point cloud representation of the real environment

Specialist departments and production representatives could save a lot of time with this method by working with the same data and the same software. The software performs complex calculations for the real-time representation of all objects in the virtual reality glasses and simulations.

The basis for this type of planning is digitized factory data available in 3D. For several years now, the BMW Group has been digitally capturing the real structures of its plants with special 3D scanners and high-resolution cameras to an accuracy of just a few millimeters. This provides a three-dimensional image of the production in the form of a point cloud. Complex digital reconstruction of the real structures and manual recording on site are no longer necessary. When planning future workplaces or entire assembly halls, the BMW Group’s specialist departments now combine the existing data with a virtual “library” containing shelves, mesh boxes, small load carriers and around 50 other particularly common resources.

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