BMW Group at NVIDIA GTC: Virtual Production Under way in Future Plant Debrecen

  • “Revolution in factory planning”: NVIDIA Omniverse enables virtual
    production in Plant Debrecen more than two years before actual
    series production is launched
  • New dimension of BMW iFACTORY: Faster, more efficient planning
    processes save time and costs
  • Global rollout of virtual planning
  • BMW AG Board Member for Production Milan Nedeljković and NVIDIA
    CEO and founder Jensen Huang deliver joint demo at GTC 2023


Munich. BMW Group has taken factory planning to new
heights – setting the latest milestone in the digitalisation of
automotive manufacturing. More than two years before the official
launch of series production, vehicle manufacturing is already underway
in the future plant Debrecen – virtually, at least, as Debrecen is the
BMW Group’s first facility to be planned and validated completely
virtually. The ground-breaking and innovative planning concept was
realised in collaboration with its partner NVIDIA. The future plant
Debrecen is scheduled to open in 2025. Construction has just begun,
and the new facility is scheduled to produce the BMW Group’s next
generation of all-electric models: the Neue Klasse.

BMW Group is taking a digital-first approach to validate and optimize
complex manufacturing systems across its production network using
NVIDIA Omniverse Enterprise, a platform for building and operating 3D
industrial metaverse applications, to run real-time digital twin
simulations to optimise layouts, robotics and logistic systems
virtually. Omniverse will be extended across the BMW product network
around the world.

“Virtualisation and artificial intelligence are accelerating and
refining our planning. With the various planning systems consolidated
within a digital twin, our teams around the world can now work
together in real-time and make decisions faster and on a more solid
foundation,” Milan Nedeljković explained. “This makes us much quicker
and more efficient and saves on costs as well.”

“Digitalization is moving fastest in the automotive industry and BMW
has been a leader in advancing this vision,” said Jensen Huang,
founder and CEO of NVIDIA. “We are partnering closely with BMW, using
NVIDIA Omniverse to help streamline their manufacturing processes,
enhance collaboration and further efficiency. Our collaboration will
continue to push the frontiers of virtual integration for the next
generation of smart, connected factories around the world”. 

In a joint demo at the NVIDIA GTC, a global conference for the era of
AI and the metaverse, Milan Nedeljković, took Huang on a virtual
planning session for the new body shop. Nedeljković described the
real-time collaboration between the different BMW Group planning
departments and their partners as a “revolution in factory planning”,
delivered on NVIDIA’s Omniverse – which had enabled the first virtual
start of production.

Engineering and planning experts from the two companies, both leaders
in their respective fields worked, in close collaboration to help BMW
build Omniverse applications that meet the BMW Group’s specific
requirements. The virtual planning approach for the new vehicle plant
is now considered a blueprint for all future planning processes at the
BMW Group.

Virtual planning facilitates global collaboration – rollout
starts end of March

NVIDIA Omniverse makes collaboration across sites and time zones
easier and supports the planning and design of structures, production
systems and processes at an entirely new technological level. It works
as a “cockpit”, offering quick, easy access to the digital planning
worlds of BMW. At the end of this month, Omniverse, which is both
cloud-based and cloud-agnostic, will be available to BMW experts in
various technologies and planning departments.


Next milestone in the BMW iFACTORY

Consistent virtual planning of highly complex vehicle production
processes represents the BMW Group’s next important step in the
transformation to the BMW iFACTORY. First introduced in early 2022,
the concept of the iFACTORY is described by Nedeljković as “our
masterplan for the automotive production of tomorrow”.

Based on a completely new vehicle architecture, the Neue Klasse
heralds the fundamental transformation of production to the BMW
iFACTORY. It began in 2020, when all of the BMW Group’s vehicle and
engine plants were 3D-scanned. Since November of that year, more than
seven million square metres of indoor and 15 million square metres of
outdoor production space have been scanned. Subsequent modifications
can be integrated into the digital world with a re-scan, to ensure the
available data is always up to date.

Meanwhile, virtual planning is under way for the roughly 1.4
km2 production hall for the Neue Klasse in Debrecen, where
the success of the virtual start of production is a testament to the
high standards that can be achieved through the digitalisation of the
planning process. NVIDIA Omniverse allows production experts to use
live data both in-house and with suppliers on the detailed planning
and optimisation of processes and individual systems – without
compatibility issues. It makes structure and facility data easy to
retrieve and integrate with equipment and assembly line data. In the
future items and part numbers for production materials will be
available as well. What’s more, layout options – for instance for
robots in work cells, or for the various areas of logistics – can be
played through in real-time, photorealistic simulations and adapted as
required. And with Omniverse, any modifications are evaluated,
validated and implemented in real-time. The platform also will allow
suppliers to be involved in decision-making and integrates the
tried-and-tested design and planning tools that BMW has been using to
date. These are made by various producers and include Bentley Systems
MicroStation for layout planning, ipolog for logistics planning,
Siemens Process Simulate, Dassault Systemes CATIA for vehicle design
and Autodesk Revit for building planning, with more tools to follow.

Over time all the relevant product, process, quality and cost data
will also gradually be available in Omniverse alongside the
development, planning and production processes. There will also be
further developments to the platform, which are expected to include
“invisible” processes such as the consumption of energy and resources.

Omniverse will enhance digital operations as well – a crucial stage
that is already being tackled by BMW Group and NVIDIA teams. In the
future, this will allow operational faults to be localized in a matter
of seconds and thus prevent longer production downtimes. It is also an
important step towards, for example, integrating and automating
virtual commissioning of new systems into a continuous planning process.


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