In the most recent of many joint projects, Siemens and BMW have converted the automaker's existing Spartanburg, SC, plant into a state-of-the-art facility--within a three-month time period.
Siemens implemented seven key solutions in the final assembly operations, from the joining of the chassis and the engine through different conveyor systems and the complete automation system for the plant.
Production of the 3 Series BMW began at the South Carolina site some 13 years ago. Today, the facility's 4,500 employ ees produce more than 150,000 of the BMW Roadster Z4 and the SUV model X5 there annually. BMW decided to extend the production to include other models, without increasing the factory floor space. This project required extensive conversions, including the replacement and enhancement of nearly half the existing systems.
Siemens acted as general contractor for seven projects and as a subcontractor in another three units. The two-line assembly system was converted into a one-line system. At the same time, it was enhanced with the latest manufacturing technologies. The X5 and the Z4 are now assembled there in all three models including the Roadster, Coupe and M.
One of the most interesting subprojects was a marriage of 10 stations with one automatic assembly station and one automatic nut-running station. This creates a previously unknown precision and eliminates the non-ergonomic overhead work that had to be performed in the production area.
Twenty-two Inductive BTS vehicles with the prepared chassis components with separate assembly racks are in operation in the new system.
Another important task was the modernization of several conveyor systems. For this work, a completely new skid system with 81 skids was installed. Another 300-meter long skid system was converted.
Additionally, a 150-meter long chain conveyor system, as well as a heavy load conveyor with a total of 91 suspension tackles, was installed. Altogether, new conveyor systems with a total length of 6km were installed. All systems including the EMS drivers were equipped with Siemens Simatic controllers (PLC).
The factory's totally new automation system now complies with the international BMW standard, which was implemented for the first time at the BMW factory in Munich, Germany.
A substantial amount of hardware and software was installed to achieve this result at the Spartanburg facility. Twenty programmable...