Emerald Fulltext Archive Database 1994-2005
Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, Production Engineering, Mining and Metallurgy, Traffic Engineering, Precision Mechanics
Purpose - Describes how BMW is investing in new body-in-white capital equipment to make a new version of the Mini due out in 2007. Design/methodology/approach - Describes the major production line technologies that are under close scrutiny to manufacture the body shell of the next generation Mini car at BMW Group's Oxford plant in the UK. Technologies to be implemented include a further 160 KUKA robots (most of which will be used for spot welding) and a new generation of control software. Findings - BMW managers and engineers have decided to expand the present body-in-white facility at Oxford by a further 15,000m2. At the same time they are planning to move some of the present manufacture to the company's plant at Swindon, Wiltshire. This includes various cells to manufacture closures, including doors, tailgate and bonnet assemblies. Already the Cabriolet tailgate assembly has been moved to Swindon. At the same time, engineers plan to introduce a new control standard, product line 2 (PL2), which is already the standard used throughout BMW's manufacturing organization. Research limitations/implications - Engineers BMW's oxford plant have been upgrading the present r50 control standard into a hybrid version that will be known as R50.1. This work is due to be complete by the end of this year. The new standard, PL2, will be introduced into the new facilities so there will in effect be two standards running in parallel in the works. At the same time the there will be a switch to Siemens S7 software, which will be faster and offer much increased processing power. Following development and work arising out of previous experience, BMW engineers have opted for KUKA KRC2 robots. Practical implications - The practical implications of the new facilities will allow BMW engineers greater flexibility. Although it has not yet been made public, it is likely the company will introduce a special framing unit that will allow manufacturing engineers to produce more than one version of the mini on the body-in-white line. Originality/value - The work being done at Oxford for the 2007 Mini will incorporate technology and know-how already developed within the BMW Group to manufacture the 1-Series and the 3-Series cars.
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