There’s no questioning that BMW vehicles leave car shoppers of all ages drooling with their unique designs and futuristic features. After all, this is the company that built the BMW i8 sports car before electric cars had really reached their current level of acceptance. However, the automaker has acknowledged that its supply chain on the production side of the business needs a bit of a makeover. To make their manufacturing processes more streamlined, and to help drivers get their hands on vehicles as soon as possible, BMW is adding several futuristic tools to its facilities.
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The first (and possibly most important) step in this modernization is to create complete transparency in its supply chain. BMW uses many suppliers to get the parts and materials it needs to build its driving machines. In the future, BMW wants to know exactly where everything is, and if anything is being delayed at any point in production. If they know there is an issue along the chain, transparency will give BMW a head start in finding alternate sources to avoid an overall delay in vehicle production. The German automaker also plans on having sensors with shipments to help monitor its condition, so that damaged parts can be easily found and kept out of the waiting vehicles.
Inside BMW’s manufacturing facilities, a fleet of autonomous transport robots and tugger trains will be on the job to bring parts to positions along the assembly line without humans behind the wheel. Hopefully this will cut down on human error that can cause accidents within the plants. At least the tugger trains will operate on used BMW i3 batteries to help cut down on waste on all levels of the business. Augmented reality goggles will also be used by the human sorters who send parts to the station where they are needed. The goggles will be able to examine parts for errors, and tell sorters where they need to go to get to their final destination.
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Lastly, BMW has big plans for how it transports cars to dealerships. The brand has plans to make real-time tracking of vehicles possible, so that dealerships can be better prepared for a shipment’s arrival and can alert customers. Electric trucks and an expanded use of rail transport will also hopefully cut down on CO2 emissions in the shipping process.
We wish BMW well in these new steps to make their business run smoother. We’re not quite sold on the goggles yet, but we’ll see if they really live up to their promises.