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New BMW Brilliance engine plant with light metal foundry in China; high-voltage battery production to come

BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) opened a new engine plant with a light metal foundry in Shenyang today. The new location will produce the latest generation of the BMW TwinPower Turbo three and four-cylinder gasoline engines and forms part of the BBA production network based in Shenyang in Northeastern China.

In addition to combustion engines, the new engine plant will also produce high-voltage batteries for future Plug-in Hybrid models. As with engine assembly, this project will entail close cooperation between BBA and the BMW Group to ensure knowledge transfer from high-voltage battery production in Germany.

Both the engine plant and the light metal foundry incorporate the latest state-of-the-art production standards. For example machining work at the new plant uses a water recovery system similar to that at the BMW Group Plant Steyr (Austria), resulting in completely wastewater-free production. This process uses innovative combined membrane technologies to treat all wastewater from mechanical production and feed it back into manufacturing.

The new BBA plant will supply BMW Brilliance’s Dadong and Tiexi automotive plants. Capacity, which currently stands at up to 300,000 units per year, is tied to production volumes at the two automotive plants. In 2015, local automotive production reached more than 287,000 units. BBA funded the necessary investment from its own resources; no additional capital was needed by the two joint venture partners.

BMW TwinPower Turbo gasoline engines represent the latest development in the BMW EfficientDynamics engine family. Using a high percentage of aluminium has significantly reduced the weight of drive trains. Heat management and acoustic features were also improved. At the heart of this engine range is the award-winning TwinPower Turbo technology, combining variable load control with state-of-the-art direct injection.

A special feature of the new engine generation is standardized, location-independent production using a modular system. All engines of this generation are in-line engines and every derivative is produced on the basis of a core engine and a modular kit. This principle increases the proportion of identical parts used within each combustion type, i.e. gasoline or diesel, to up to 60%. Even around 40% of the parts used in gasoline and diesel engines are identical.

The standardized production system for modular engines forms synergies with the international BMW Group engine production locations in Munich (Germany), Steyr (Austria) and Hams Hall (UK). Value stream optimization and economies of scale benefit production processes and make them more economical. These locations, which serve as competence centers for various engine types within the global engine production network, are able to share their know-how with other engine plants at any time.

A further advantage of a standardized production system is uniform, stable processes that enhance quality. At the same time, location-independent modular production is highly flexible: Its standardized systems and processes allow the company to respond quickly to changes in market and customer demand.

Light metal foundry. The foundry sets new standards for sustainable production and has a capacity of up to 15,000 tons of aluminium per year. It is modeled on its partner plant in Landshut, Germany, the experience from which was integrated into production processes.

Innovative manufacturing processes enable nearly emission-free production of sand cores. For the first time in China, inorganic binders are used and lead to a reduction of emissions of combustion residues by 98% compared with the organic casting processes typically used in the industry.

In addition, 90% of the sand used for casting can be recycled to reduce waste to a minimum. In 2009, the BMW Group became the first to use this state-of-the-art, eco-friendly technology completely in series production of castings worldwide.

The aluminium needed for casting will continue to be delivered in solid form and then liquified to around 760 ˚C in the on-site smelter. The returns from the casting process—i.e. metal residues separated from the raw cast during cleaning—are melted down in the foundry’s own smelting and holding furnaces and are reused.

Innovative wire arc spraying technology (LDS) is also being introduced for production of cast-aluminium crankcases. The cylinder faces of all crankcases are coated with a wafer-thin layer of iron particles sprayed on in liquid form. This results in a lower weight and less friction in the engine leading to lower fuel consumption.

BBA is a long-standing joint venture between the BMW Group and Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd. A total of around 2,000 BBA employees will work at the engine plant over the long term.

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