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BMW outlines iFACTORY production strategy; transformation to e-mobility; Plant Debrecen first CO2-free plant

BMW’s iFACTORY production strategy defines the future orientation of plants and production technologies at the BMW Group and meets the challenges of the transformation to e-mobility.

Automotive manufacturing of the future requires a new, holistic way of thinking. With our BMW iFACTORY, we are leading the way and setting new standards in flexibility, efficiency, sustainability and digitalization.

—Milan Nedeljković, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Production

The strategic vision of the global production network is the BMW iFACTORY. LEAN. GREEN. DIGITAL., with an integrative, global approach.

The BMW iFACTORY is not a one-off showpiece but an approach we will implement at all our plants in the future —from our 100-year-old home plant in Munich to our forthcoming plant in Debrecen, Hungary.

—Milan Nedeljković


BMW Group Production Network: 31 production sites in 15 countries.

The BMW iFACTORY focuses the BMW Group’s production expertise on three key topic areas:

  • LEAN, which stands for efficiency, precision and extreme flexibility;

  • GREEN, for sustainability, resource-efficiency and circularity; and

  • DIGITAL, for the active use of digitalisation in data science, artificial intelligence (AI) and virtualization.

The holistic approach of the BMW iFACTORY is underpinned by the flexibility, launch expertise and integration capability in the company’s production system.

LEAN: Based on highly flexible, efficient production. The BMW Group’s production network is on the cusp of a fundamental transformation: the Neue Klasse, due for production launch in 2025, is based on a completely new vehicle architecture.

With its clear focus on the all-electric drive, it sets the conditions for future vehicle generations to be manufactured efficiently and in line with the company’s profitability and quality goals. The BMW iFACTORY is now set to strengthen the proven success factors of the global production network.

LEAN is about highly flexible, efficient production through streamlined processes in competitive structures. A single BMW production line can produce different drive types and vehicle models. They also set the standard in terms of rapid responsiveness and adaptability, absorbing supply bottlenecks and shortages comparatively spontaneously and reacting quickly to fluctuations in demand. For customers, this flexibility means they can change certain elements of their vehicle configuration up to six days before the production date.

The aim of the BMW iFACTORY is to use even more meaningful real-time data from throughout the production process to control global manufacturing more closely and transparently achieve the fastest possible response times. This will enhance not only volume and market planning but also supply chain and inventory management and support targeted work on quality as well.

GREEN: Sustainability along the entire value chain. With BMW iFACTORY, the focus on sustainable production is stronger than ever.

Environmental, economic and social responsibility are inseparable, and we strive to achieve all three not only in the product itself but along the entire value chain. By 2030 we aim to reduce CO2 emissions from production by 80 percent compared to 2019,

— Milan Nedeljković

With its new plant in Debrecen, Hungary—where production of the all-electric Neue Klasse will launch in 2025—the BMW Group is entering a new era in sustainable automotive production.

Our plans are for Plant Debrecen to be the first automotive plant in the world to dispense completely with fossil energy sources in its production processes. Debrecen will be our first CO2-free vehicle plant and puts us clearly at the vanguard of developments in this regard.

—Milan Nedeljković

A significant share of the plant’s electricity will be generated directly on site. The remainder will be covered by 100% renewables, the vast majority of which will come from regional sources.

Another element of sustainable production is consistent circularity. Wherever possible, production materials and resources will be reused. Metal offcuts and filings from milling, for example, will be recycled and reused, while waste heat from cooling will be fed into a circuit to heat indoor spaces and water.

Saving resources significantly benefits the company economically. Examples include the resource-saving wet-in-wet painting process (IPP) and the use of direct current in car body construction for the first time.

The energy that powers the BMW Group’s plants around the world is sourced purely from renewables. As Plant Leipzig develops into a center of excellence for hydrogen, the company’s facilities worldwide are becoming increasingly independent of third-party energy suppliers or other external influences. This is enabled by a combination of self-generated and stored energy with flexible load profiles throughout production. Here, the latest digital methods and comprehensive systems ensure maximum transparency and support the consistent reduction of energy consumption as well as the needs-based use of renewables on the basis of accurate forecasts.

A further key issue in the field of climate protection is biodiversity. The variety of flora and fauna at BMW Group sites worldwide is being promoted through targeted, region-specific measures, from beehives and falcons to meadow orchards.

Meanwhile, to support GREEN logistics both within and outside the plants, the BMW iFACTORY adopts an open-minded approach to technologies, focusing on environmentally sustainable concepts. Within the next few years, for example, increased use of rail transport and electric trucks will mean zero local emissions from transport logistics at Plant Munich.

DIGITAL: From innovations to effective use cases. Production at the BMW Group uses the latest technologies to link all the relevant product, process, quality and cost data between development, planning and production processes. The main focus here is on applications from the fields of virtualization, data science and artificial intelligence.

Virtualization plays an important role within the BMW iFACTORY strategy model. In a first step, every detail of all the BMW Group’s production sites is being recorded in a 3D scan. In this way, planning work can be carried out virtually at any time and from anywhere. In the next logical step, a virtual representation—or digital twin—is created of each factory in its entirety. This can then be used by planning specialists in real-time collaborations across different locations and time zones.

This approach allows virtual products to be integrated into the factory early on, for example, and significantly reduces planning work further down the line. It also allows investments to be optimized and enhances process efficiency and the stability of product launches.

Data science provides the foundations for fact-, figure- and (real-time) data-based decision-making. Consistent, transparent data allows the root causes to be identified quickly and proactively so that processes can be optimized. BMW Group production already uses more than 200 AI-based applications. The technology allows various logistics and production processes to be automated for better quality assurance. In addition, standardized platforms and self-services mean solutions can be scaled rapidly for application across all technologies and locations.

The key factors behind the transformation of BMW Group production are the developments in the automotive market and specifications around climate change. The BMW Group is already doubling its production of electric vehicles in 2022, having delivered more than 35,000 fully electric cars to customers in the first quarter alone. At the same time, the latest technical innovations are supporting the company as it contributes significantly to climate protection and sustainability.

The BMW iFACTORY delivers not only on the increasing customer demand for electric vehicles but also on our desire, as a member of society, to support climate protection and sustainability. We are using digitalization to make this happen – while remaining absolutely competitive.

—Milan Nedeljković


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