Date:05-17 15:04 Source：autochina.comnews.cn Authour：He Lun
——Auto Market Hotspots Q&A (126)
The upgrade of the domestic BMW 5-series is the most important event this year, not only for BMW but for the entire executive car market in China. For the new-generation 5-series, Brilliance BMW made a huge investment in building a new plant in Dadong District of Shenyang. Is it the first “Industry 4.0” OEM in China? BMW does not voice the thought aloud, but people who have visited it will feel that way, because every part of this plant is filled with industry 4.0 elements. The important question is this – what will these industry 4.0 elements bring to the new 5-series?
Zhang Tao, Plant Manager, presents the new plant to the media
Q: You were among the first journalists to visit the new Dadong Plant. What’s your general impression?
A: Two things impressed me most. The first is hardware. The advanced process equipment is unmatched in the whole country. It’s no surprise – the world’s top luxury car brand is clearly going to use state-of-the-art equipment in its new plant. If Mercedes Benz establishes a new plant in China in a few years’ time, it will definitely use the most advanced equipment then available. The second is software. Industry 4.0 elements represented by big data applications and Internet of Things (IOT) are everywhere. The plant is more digital, intelligent and connected than any other OEM I have seen or heard of.
Maximilian Hauk, Vice President of the Plant in charge of Production and Planning, talks about how industry 4.0 is applied at the plant
Q: Speaking of hardware, what are the latest items of equipment you just talked about?
A: The first is the 10,300t 6-speed servo stamping line (metal covering components of a vehicle need to be pressed 6 times before being formed). Previously, domestic plants usually used 4-speed or 5-speed machinery, with the total tonnage ranging between 5000 and 8000t. FAW-VW Audi also uses a 6-speed servo stamping line, but the total tonnage is 9,100t. BMW spent so much on building this topnotch stamping line because the aluminum alloy sheets used in the new 5-series require a punching accuracy 3-5 times greater than that for steel sheets due to their metallic properties. The tolerance should not be over 0.02mm, which is equivalent to 1/3 of the diameter of a human hair.
In order to reduce the car weight by 130 kg and at the same time improve the safety of the car body, the body uses a large number of aluminum alloy covering components, and it also uses more than 30 kinds of different metal materials. This requires adopting different joining technologies to integrate them together. For the complex body structure consisting of 440 different metal parts, the welding shop uses 18 forms of joining technology, among which the FLS hot-melt self-tapping screw and ball bonding are being used for the first time in China.
The light-weight design brings the curb weight of the new 5-series down to 1.6t, the lowest in its class. Compared with the Jaguar XFL - known for its aluminum body - and the two German rivals, the new 5-series is lighter by at least 100kg, which will help achieve better fuel economy and vehicle handling.
The 10,300t 6-speed servo stamping line
Q: Now many manufacturers are talking about industry 4.0. What are the specific industry 4.0 elements in the new Dadong Plant, and what can they bring to the carmaker and its products?
A: On the one hand, industry 4.0 can greatly improve production efficiency and lower production costs, which will benefit the carmaker; on the other hand, it can significantly improve the precision, or rather the quality of the products, which benefits the consumers. These two benefits were verified in our interviews at the new Dadong Plant.
According to Maximilian Hauk, Vice President in charge of production and planning, thanks to the full digital management of the “integrated IOT platform”, the overall efficiency of the new plant has been improved by 20%, and energy consumption alone has been reduced by 30%.
Zhang Tao is the Chinese manager of the new plant, and BMW’s only female plant manager in the world. I was impressed by what she had to say. She told me the new 5-series was “built on data”. Every part of its body can be described with data; these data are all traceable and any deviation will immediately be displayed on the screen. For example, each welded and assembled car body will undergo 100% online laser tracking detection to see if it meets precision standards; all testing data will be included in the database. If the precision tolerance is found off-standard during the big data analysis (big data acquisition and analysis is one of the core elements of industry 4.0) and is at risk of entering the failure mode, the system will automatically stop the production line and look for the cause. In this way, problems of inferior quality will be eliminated before they actually occur.
Similar big data analysis is also performed on the stamping line, and as a result, the number of stamping parts that need to be polished due to defects is reduced by half. Big data technology is also applied on the coating and assembly line, and in logistics.
So on the whole, at the new Dadong Plant industry 4.0 applications have greatly reduced the defect and rework rates and lowered costs, while at the same time bringing higher precision and better quality to the products. To date, the new 5-series is perhaps the most “precise” executive car in terms of both exterior and interior.
Zhang told us that with the continuous improvement of digital management, the new 5-series was “not far from zero defect”.
Parts are laser-scanned so as to find defects with the help of data
Q: What are the differences between the new plant and BMW’s plants in Germany?
A: Regarding this question, according to Dr. Robert Engelhorn, Senior Vice President of Brilliance BMW in charge of production and technology, the logistics and coating processes here are the most advanced in the world, and the application of mobile terminals in management is also world-leading, which is well suited to conditions in China.