BMW's Logistics of the Future: From Augmented Reality Glasses to Electric Trucks
|   Sunday, December 04, 2016
In the future, the BMW Group will be based increasingly on innovation and digitization for a sustainable logistics processes. A fully interconnected supply chain, autonomous transport robots, and use of existing information for transport vehicles will make its logistics system more flexible and more efficient.
Every day, a total of 30 million components must be delivered to the right place at the right time, so about 9,000 new cars can be be produced in the 31 production sites belonging to the BMW Group around the globe.


BMW Group's supply chain consists of a network of providers distributed globally in close cooperation with various companies that provide logistics services. In the future, complete data transparency throughout the chain will allow identifying each item and whether it will be delivered on time. This information will allow immediate response in case of delays. For example, if a truck is involved in an accident, the Connected Supply Chain automatically calculates alternative courses of action and initiates appropriate measures.

Autonomous driving will play an increasingly important role in logistics. An initial fleet of ten autonomous Smart Transport Robots (STR) carrying components in the Wackersdorf plant will be used. What is unique is that the autonomous transport robots have no need for navigation by the induction loops installed in the floor, but move freely through the logistics warehouse, being constantly juiced up by the batteries previously used on the BMW i3 and having the capacity to carry containers weighing up to 500 kilograms.

The BMW Group plant halls from Dingolfing are managed with autonomous heavy trains. They are used to supply the assembly process - especially for larger distances between individual deposits and assembly halls. From a technical standpoint, the independent direction and navigation of heavy trains are based on laser signals. By evaluating their reflection, the heavy trains generate, in real time, a 2D digital camera profile, which allows handling through the assembly hall and logistics areas along certain routes.

The augmented reality glasses help logistics personnel and indicate to the person using them the components where to find the right part and where to place it. In another scenario the use of glasses goes further: the component that will be sorted is visual registered by the glasses and is passed to optical quality control. At the same time, the image information is compared in the background with a database, previously compiled. Within milliseconds, the system reports if that component is perfect. By using artificial intelligence the intelligent glasses can independently recognize different types of defects.

A measure to reduce CO2 emissions is to increase railway transport. For example, currently over 60 percent of all new cars leaving production plants do so on railways.

The railways play an important role in delivery of materials to the plants. For example, twice a week, a train with automobile components starts from Regensburg and Leipzig and goes on the Trans-Siberian to northern China, carrying annually about 2,500 containers in Shenyang, on a journey of nearly 11,000 kilometers.
With a transit time of less than 20 days, the direct train travel route is more than two times faster than the combination of sea and roads with about the same CO2 emissions.

In the long term, the BMW Group to make effective use, in terms of cost, of alternative propulsion technologies.
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