BMW technology spots and corrects flaws in the 5 Series on the assembly line

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MUNICH – The BMW Group says it is the first automobile manufacturer to introduce a unique system with a fully automated, optical measuring cell.

The system is at work at its Munich pilot plant.

Freely moving robot arms use sensors to create a three-dimensional image of the entire vehicle and generate a 3D data model from the data captured, with ultra-high accuracy.

The Group says this allows barely visible deviations to be identified and corrected at an early stage.

The optical measuring cell monitors the point where development and series production meet.

It forms part of the Group’s digitalization strategy for production and supports the high quality standards for production of premium vehicles.

The next generation of the BMW 5 Series Sedan will be the first to benefit from this new technology, says the automaker.

Eduard Obst, head of geometric analysis, measuring technology and cubing, total vehicle, explains “We are delighted to reach this genuine milestone in preproduction with the optical measuring cell

“A single measurement provides us with a 3D data model of the total vehicle. Lengthy individual measurements and data collation are no longer needed – saving time and enhancing quality at the start of series production.”

A robot arm on rails moves freely as it maps the vehicle.

Occupying a relatively small area, this set-up allows two small, flexible robots to be used in parallel in the optimum working range.

Compared with previous processes, measurements now only take around half the time and are completed within just a few days.

The robots are fitted with two sensors that scan of the entire vehicle.

The Group says analysis of the data quickly reveals any deviations, allowing technical integration specialists in the production division to take appropriate action early on.

Three-dimensional vehicle scanning can be fully automated and performed at off-peak hours or at night, so the measuring cell can be used to full capacity without interrupting production.

With results delivered promptly, update cycles are shorter or no longer needed.

The measurement data and analysis findings are shared online within the production network and also made available to the plant responsible for series production to assist with its preparations.

The technology is not new. It’s graduating from use in toolmaking, where it has been measuring individual sheet-metal parts, as well as inspecting the tools themselves since 2015.

The BMW Group is also exploring the use of automated optical measurement at its automobile plants.