BMW Group opens >$1B plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico; digitalization and new sustainability benchmarks
The BMW Group officially opened the company’s new automotive plant in San Luis Potosi in Mexico. The company has invested more than US$1 billion in the new production location. The plant, which already employs 2,500 people, will have a capacity of up to 175,000 units per year once the ramp-up phase is fully completed. San Luis Potosi will build the BMW brand’s most successful model series: the BMW 3 Series Sedan.
The plant was designed from the start to allow us to respond quickly and flexibly to future model variants and production volumes. We use innovative Industry 4.0 technologies, including new automation solutions and modern assistance systems. Sustainability was also a major focus from the beginning – and we are setting new standards in this area.—Hermann Bohrer, director of the Mexican plant
The BMW Group used digital 3D plans during construction of the plant, both for the building itself and for the installation of equipment. During every phase of construction, architects entered specific information, such as location, dimensions and completion date into digital models. Digital 3D-scanning technology was also used during construction for the first time. Combining these two technologies allowed for real-time analysis of construction progress and cost-efficient modifications, providing the BMW Group with continuous planning reliability.
The new BMW Group plant is a pioneer in the field of intelligent maintenance. Smart Maintenance Assistant Software is being used for the first time, enabling proactive maintenance throughout the plant to be planned ahead of time, thereby increasing equipment availability. Service activities are based on current, intelligently organized system data instead of predefined maintenance intervals. Using smart devices such as tablets and smartphones, staff receive all relevant information regarding equipment status.
Various Industry 4.0 technologies are used, for example, in assembly, where screens have largely replaced paper throughout the assembly process. Two screens per takt provide staff with all the information they need—information which, in the past, was only available on paper. This digital job card is being used for the first time at the BMW Group plant in Mexico.
(Takt is German word for establishing the “beat” or rhythm of a process. A Takt helps balance the production rates across an assembly line to ensure continuous and even flow of work. This process minimizes downtime and eliminates unnecessary work in progress (WIP).)
Robots and employees work directly alongside one another in engine pre-assembly, cooperating in a way which plays to the strengths of each. Robots have the power to turn the heavy convertor, while the employees have the manual dexterity to make the final adjustments to fit them together precisely.
From the first full year of production, the facility in San Luis Potosi will be the BMW Group’s most resource-efficient plant.
Careful use of water resources is a primary sustainability objective. The site, with the production network’s lowest water consumption per vehicle produced, will be the BMW Group’s first paint shop to generate no process wastewater at all. The water needed for the painting process is reconditioned and reused.
The use of renewable energy sources ensures that the plant will be supplied with 100% CO2-free electricity in future. A solar energy plant on-site, covering an area of more than 70,000 m2, will produce part of the energy.
The new plant in Mexico expands the BMW Group production network to a total of 31 locations. In line with the BMW Group’s Strategy NUMBER ONE > NEXT, this ensures the company has a flexible and efficient international production network, with a good balance of value creation between Europe, Asia and the Americas.