I went to the BMW Tiexi factory and found out that the factory is already in the digital twin

When new technologies are integrated into the century-old automobile industry, the construction and production of digital factories will usher in a major leap.

In the powertrain workshop of BMW Brilliance Tiexi Plant, we saw a lot of busy AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle) robots.

A worker standing in a square console only needs a few simple clicks on the computer. After receiving the instruction, the AGV scans the QR code to accurately identify the moving line according to the pre-programmed handling route, and send the components required for assembly. After coming over, the masters successively took out the required parts from the AGV robot, twisted to operate, and clicked on the screen after the process was completed, and the AGV set off again and continued to perform its next task.

I went to the BMW Tiexi factory and found out that the factory is already in the digital twin

In the first half of this year, since the logistics “goods to people” project of BMW Brilliance Tiexi Powertrain Factory was put into operation, more than 20 AGVs have assisted workers in picking and transportation. These 20 AGVs can complete more than 300 picking orders per hour. Meet the supply of parts for the engine assembly.

Before upgrading to the “goods to people” project, the BMW factory was still the traditional “people picking” model. Engineers need to push large and small loading trucks to the designated picking area to pick the goods, pick up the required goods, and return to the workbench to continue the assembly operation.

Just at BMW Brilliance’s powertrain plant, tens of thousands of parts are needed for transportation and deployment during the daily production process, which requires a lot of manpower and material resources. Technology was born to liberate the monotonous and repetitive work of employees and improve production efficiency. The idea of ​​transforming AGV and unmanned storage areas came from this.

AGV and unmanned storage areas are only part of the digital transformation of BMW Brilliance’s Tiexi plant. In the seemingly traditional field of automobile manufacturing, BMW has applied artificial intelligence visual inspection, 5G connectivity, unmanned warehousing, and even digital twins such as VR/AR in the factory, and has penetrated into many processes of automobile manufacturing.

After the visit of Pinjia/Pinwan, I also had a great feeling: the intelligent transformation of these traditional manufacturing industries that I saw before my eyes is not as “sexy” as in science fiction films, but once the industrial Internet, AI vision and 5G technologies are used Incorporating into the depths of industrial intelligent processes, the evolution of a traditional factory will also be unprecedented.

Power plant starting from a grain of sand

The huge engine block in a BMW car actually started from a grain of sand.

First of all, the original material of the foundry engine is foundry sand specially used in the casting process, but because the sand itself has no viscosity and cannot be directly plasticized, the first step is actually to mix the sand with glue through a large sand mixer, and then mix the sand. The glue mixture is put into the hot core box to form a sand core, and then the aluminum alloy solution is injected from the bottom to the top into the casting cavity mold, and after it is cooled and solidified, the blank of the cylinder body parts is obtained.

However, the accuracy of the blank is not enough to meet the requirements of the combination. Therefore, the foundry shop turns the sand into a blocky rough part, and after arriving in the machining shop, a series of machining, milling, planing, grinding, tongs and other processes of the robot arm have become a more precise engine block. /Cylinder head.

I went to the BMW Tiexi factory and found out that the factory is already in the digital twin

Before the cylinder enters the next process, it actually involves a visual quality inspection process. It was first through the eyes of individual quality inspection masters, but now it is replaced by artificial intelligence machine vision assistance.

Previously, inspectors needed to inspect about 2,000 cylinder heads every day, which placed extremely high requirements on the meticulousness and vision of inspectors. Firstly, the efficiency of visual inspection results is very low. Secondly, inspectors are also prone to visual fatigue if they inspect the same type of cylinder for a long time.

After BMW integrated the process into AI visual inspection, we were deeply impressed: the conveyor belt only needs to transport the cylinder to a large inspection position with a robotic arm. Before being lifted in front of the inspector, AI Vision has completed the preliminary screening of the contact surface of the cylinder.

I went to the BMW Tiexi factory and found out that the factory is already in the digital twin

It is understood that this huge detection device has a robotic arm and multiple cameras, and the robotic arm grabbing in the past is actually a pre-set parameter, but with 5G technology, it can slowly transition to AI vision and realize a part of self-defense. learn.

These preliminary screening results will be the first to appear on the big screen, and the small flaws that are not easy to see by the human eye are color-coded.

Subsequently, the operator can zoom in and view through the large screen, click to review, and perform the cylinder inspection at the same time.

A more flexible production process improves the efficiency of quality inspection and product quality. Technicians said that the original cylinder block inspection workflow was all printed on 66 sheets of A4 paper, and quality inspectors would follow the process. Now AI vision can achieve preliminary screening through learning, and the inspection time for an engine cylinder head has been shortened to Within a few tens of seconds, the recognition accuracy of tiny flaws on the cylinder head surface has reached 99.7%.

After the different castings are formed, there is also the process of the above-mentioned AGV assembling the different parts together.

A technician at the site said that the second phase of the “goods to people” project will also be launched in October this year, and there will be more AGVs in the storage area to replace manual pickers. In the future, BMW Brilliance also hopes that AGV can be extended to all factories, and gradually realize the automation of the entire logistics process from warehouse homing and picking to on-line supply.

From substitute to assist

It can also be seen from the use of visual AI and AGV that the employees who belong to the logistics distribution area have turned into instructors and coaches. They no longer need to go deep into the storage area for selection, but are responsible for looking after these “small attendants”. Is it good?

This also means that the digital factory will not become a “unmanned factory.”

For BMW Brilliance, technology is “people-oriented” and providing support and services to employees is the inevitable trend of technological development. Through intelligent “human” and “machine” collaboration, eliminating the obstacles and constraints of employees’ self-development is the only way to enhance the creative vitality of enterprises and win the digital future.

Technology should assist people, not replace them. This is the philosophy of BMW’s in-depth manufacturing for a century.

Human-machine collaboration
Human-machine collaboration

People are still the eternal theme. BMW believes that through efficient, accurate and comprehensive digital interconnection technology, the digital factory has built a highly intelligent and integrated digital platform for employees, so that everyone can get strong support from intelligent machinery and networks. , Quickly get rid of the tedious work.

I went to the BMW Tiexi factory and found out that the factory is already in the digital twin

In the BMW factory, we have seen more applications of laser camera and robotic arm combinations. At the car body apron grabbing station, the machine can analyze the direction and position of the car body apron by taking pictures, and complete the sorting work independently. In the quality inspection area, the camera scans the door, chassis cover and other positions to achieve flatness quality inspection and generate data.

The so-called digital factory, as well as the data-based platform, are more driven by experience to data.

What is the use of these data?

In addition to the concept of digital platform, on-demand customization, production, etc., factory efficiency in a broader sense also has a data concept.

BMW’s idea is very advanced, here is the concept of a digital twin. A senior director of the BMW factory said that the pressure and current of the mechanical arm debugging can be digitalized and simulated, and they will correct it through the digital platform.

During the iterative process of the robotic arm, the efficient operation of the production system must take the data to the digital twin world for simulation, and then come back for substantial production.

I went to the BMW Tiexi factory and found out that the factory is already in the digital twin

The current production state actually comes from the design and simulation two years ago. Once it is put into real production, then all the data of the workstations should be in the virtual simulation ready state.

He said to Pinjia/Pinwan that, before the establishment of any BMW factory, the corresponding management department actually has certain requirements for the prototype of the workshop. This prototype is a sample of digital simulation, how to design the factory, and the digital platform. How to combine and how to transfer data is a conceptual model for feasibility analysis given to relevant departments.

This is not only applying VR and other technologies to factory construction, but also building a “virtual factory” in a digital system through 3D modeling. With the data, it will be possible to restore the real production scene and production efficiency of the factory 1:1, and simulate the factory’s Running.

BMW claims that in the digital factory, digital planning uses cutting-edge digital tools such as three-dimensional modeling, VR technology (virtual reality technology) and virtual debugging to create digital twins in the virtual world, develop and test products and factories, and apply them in real life. In this way, the efficiency of planning and development is improved, and the lead time for factories and products is shortened.

I went to the BMW Tiexi factory and found out that the factory is already in the digital twin

This is exactly what is most anticipated: when new technologies are integrated into the century-old automobile industry, the construction and production of digital factories will usher in a major leap.


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