The assembly shop – an area dominated by man.
As soon as you set foot in one of the two assembly shops in
Dingolfing you will notice that apart from state-of-the-art technology it
is mainly man who helps to turn the painted bodies-in-white into most
wanted BMW cars tailored to the needs of each individual customer.
Strictly speaking, there are more than 6, 500 people employed at the
assembly shop, who each day produce most flexibly and skilfully up to
1,300 3 Series, 5 Series and 7 Series cars in two shifts. The assembly
shop differs in this respect significantly from the press shop, the
body shop and the paint shop. In the previous production stages man only
seldom touches the actual product, being mainly involved in the control
and maintenance of automized facilities. Now the employees are
vastly superior in number. The following gives you an example: Man has
well over 20 axes of movement, an advanced industrial robot only a
maximum of seven. Thus work done by hand and experience combined with
the use of state-of-the-art technologies for the assembly lines are
the prerequisite for an economic production of customized vehicles
of supreme quality.
The use of swivelling overhead suspension arms makes it possible
to horizontally and vertically move the vehicles, that seem to be
floating on the air, and brings them, depending on the work which has to be
done, to a position that is ideal for the employees from an ergonomic
point of view. Manriding belts facilitate the co-ordination of movements. The
relevant equipment details are shown on monitor systems installed next to
the lines, the former being provided with customer-specific data by
means of so-called transponders that are fixed to the hoods. Hydraulic
handling devices help to easily transport heavy components such as air conditioning devices, seats, pre-assembled doors or batteries to
the location of assembly.
Multiplication of skills within the team.
The employees at the Dingolfing assembly shop are organized in
teams of up to 10 to 15 people with a high degree of personal
responsibility. Each person within a team should be in a position, if possible,
to do the job of his or her colleagues. There is a rota system that
enhances the abilities and skills of each individual person. Different model
series, various variants for specific countries and diversified
customers’ requests as to equipment make necessary a high level of
flexibility and require the employees to work with great concentration. The
following fact shows how complex the manufacture may be: The possibilities of variation, the new BMW 7 Series model
offers, amount to 1017 – that is "100,000,000, 000,000,000", which is an incredibly high number.
The new 7 Series generation also demands adjustments within the assembly shop.
The vehicles’ complex electronic system and new processes such
as the customer-oriented sales and production process KOVP have brought about substantial changes in the Dingolfing assembly shop, too.
Thus the new 7 Series model is the first BMW model to be built
in accordance with the customer-oriented sales and production
process KOVP. As KOVP results in the postponement of the allocation of
the vehicle to the order of a specific customer, the vehicle and
chassis type identification number is now applied by a robot no earlier than
at the beginning of the assembly process. For comparison: In the past
the vehicle was already allocated to a specific customer order at
the beginning of the body-in-white assembly.
KOVP and modular construction also make greater demands on the suppliers than before. Fully pre-assembled door modules or front
end modules with integrated bumpers, headlights and radiator grille
are delivered precisely to the section of the assembly line at which
they are needed.
The new 7 Series model’s numerous electronic modules and well
over 60 control units are linked to each other and form an extensive
network never seen before in automobile construction. The control system CASCADE introduced in the assembly shop makes possible the monitoring of all electronic components and a 100 percent check
of their mutual reactions already upon installation as well as after each
stage of assembly.
In order to pay tribute to the ever-increasing demand of the
electronic system, BMW initiated a special training scheme by which
assembly workers attained thorough knowledge of the new 7 Series model.
The body shop’s employees working at the 7 Series assembly line are
highlyspecialized anyway. About 55 percent of the employees are skilled mechanics, 20 percent of the workforce are metalworking
specialists and every second employee is a semiskilled worker. About 2,300
employees work on each vehicle before the 7 Series model leaves the
The progressive trouble shooting system CASCADE.
The abbreviation CASCADE stands for "Control Application
Sequences for Coding and Diagnostic Execution". It is a revolutionary
system in the world of electronic bench tests. All-new paths have already been trodden in the creation of this system. Whilst in the
conventional development of trouble shooting systems the respective test job
is in the focus of attention, the new approach takes as a basis the
desired ideal state of the vehicle.
The new system itself is able to determine any defects or the
absence of faults. Possible deviations from the projected status are
recognized and reported by the system. A special CASCADE software is needed for
this, it virtually assembles a vehicle in accordance with the
respective vehicle identification number upon receipt of the assembly order. All
necessary data are read out from a database with virtual vehicle
components that comprises all model- and equipment-specific test criteria. Thus
all initial information needed for testing the vehicle is provided. After
the identification of the vehicle at the respective CASCADE test
bench information is retrieved from the real vehicle, added to the
test information and evaluated. This information can be accessed at
any time and from everywhere. Thus the test bench is a standardized
interface between the real and the virtual automobile. CASCADE is one the
first JAVA-implemented productive systems which runs under all
operating systems. It took only two and a half years to make the initial
concept ready for use in series production.
The electronic localization of noise sources.
In recent years considerable progress was made in the reduction
of noises produced by automobiles. This is the reason why nowadays hardly audible noises coming for example from the area of the
dashboard or the glove compartment while the car is in motion are
increasingly heard. In order to eliminate the reasons for creaking noises as
early as in the production stage, the vehicle undergoes several tests. The
vehicle is driven on a noise testing track with a special surface. It is
further tested at the shaker/roller test bench or on the entrance ramp, where
the employees precisely localize the noise sources with a "trained
ear" and eliminate them.
All-automatic window assembly.
The first step in the pre-assembly of the windows is the
cleaning of the windscreen and the rear window. Then the interior mirror is automatically fixed by adhesion and the windows are provided
with adhesive primer by robots. Before the actual assembly the window
is measured. A laser measuring system takes a three-dimensional
measure of the body’s section where the windscreen is to be installed
and computes the correct position for bonding the windscreen. The
acquired data is then transmitted to the bonding robot, which finally
grips the window and fits it most accurately into the body in an
Virtual testing, assessment and optimization at an early stage of planning.
Long before the actual installation of the first facilities
intended for the production of the new model series, production planning
engineers have already tested several times and optimized complete
production lines in their complexity by means of realistic simulations.
Whilst in product design the change-over from drawing boards to
threedimensional computer-aided design was already consistently pushed forward already at the end of the eighties, the use of virtual
threedimensional models in production planning still shows much potential for being intensified and refined.
When BMW assembly specialists speak of a "virtual factory" they
mean a three-dimensional representation and simulation of the
assembly process. Apart from the technical equipment and conveyor
systems, such a simulation system also includes the product and the means
of production, thus enabling the specialists to eliminate at an
early stage of planning potential deficiencies such as too narrow routes of
transport, insufficient safety distances or a lack of room for the storage
of components. Thanks to the information received via the
simulation programs, the modification and installation of production lines
can be effected and realized more efficiently.
Quality has a long-standing tradition.
At BMW quality has a long-standing tradition. Quality has its
roots in the distinct quality awareness of each individual employee, having a determining influence on all processes throughout the entire
network of plants. An extensive, multi-stage quality management system ensures a
high quality standard for all processes, components and, last but not
least, for the entire range of products.
The seal of quality "Made by BMW" acknowledged by independent experts.
Apart from the successful and regular certification of the
quality management system of all plants according to DIN EN ISO 9 000
ff., externally conducted studies in the automobile industry bear
testimony to the excellent quality standard of the BMW production sites.
In 2001 J. D. Power and Associates, an American-based market research institute, gave to the Dingolfing Plant for the fourth
time in a row and for the fifth time overall its Plant Award, this time in
bronze. Over the last years the Dingolfing Plant scooped all prizes awarded
by J. D. Power and Associates (1996 Silver, 1998 Platinum, 1999 Gold,
Uniform quality standards the world over.
The quality standards for processes and products are identical throughout the BMW Group’s entire network. There is a uniform
numeral representing the quality number. This characteristic number is
the result of several years of in-house development and is a guarantee of outstanding quality borne out by the label "Made by BMW".
"Customer-oriented thinking and acting" is an integral part of
the BMW Group’s employees’ philosophy which is to deliver on time
perfect results in all areas of production. The employees’ attitude
towards quality is borne out by the early prevention of faults throughout the
entire production process and their strive for constant improvement.