The digital tool box
Digital tools are defining modern automotive manufacturing. We are at a stage where these digital systems are not new technologies but a proven asset. Since the I4.0 concept was imagined several years ago, the application of VR, AR and AI to plan, develop and implement production processes has grown to a point of being indispensable.
Whenever we talk with OEMs and Tiers involved in establishing new plants or upgrading existing ones, they almost all attribute a large part of the success to the ability to create digital twins and simulate with a high degree of accuracy the planned operations. A good example are those companies in the process of establishing new battery giga-factories. The scale and cost of these projects means there is little margin for error.
The need for high-volume production of batteries within tight times scales to meet fast growing demand adds pressure to the planning and execution teams. We are told that being able to simulate and validate processes and support training of the production teams is a major factor in making these projects viable.
So, when we saw the news that BMW was working on a project to create a virtual model of its entire production network, we had to follow up. Using digital, 3D scanning systems to gather the vast amount of data, seems like an epic undertaking but an entirely logical one. You can read more on this topic in this edition of AMS, which continuing this theme also features great insights into digital projects with Audi and Skoda.
Several years ago, I visited a large vehicle production plant where they were planning to add some new lines. Back then they had used cardboard mock-ups of assembly stations and an equipment to simulate, with a surprising level of detail, the layout and flow of the proposed production lines. I have to say I marvelled at the skill, ingenuity and work that had gone into this. But things have certainly moved on from this and right now I’m eager to see where this ever-developing digital path will lead automotive manufacturing.
Cover image courtesy of BMW
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