3D scanning: Every BMW plant is expected to have a digital twin by 2023

By early 2023, BMW wants each of the vehicle plants operated around the world to be as fully digital as a digital twin. With the help of “Digital Twins”, all processes and the entire production system can be virtually 100% planned and simulated. Three works have already been recorded.

Digital twins are already available for the Spartanburg, USA plant, the main Munich plant and the Regensburg plant. By September this year, BMW plans to include the Dingolfing, Leipzig and Tiexi plants. The implementation of the plants in Mexico, South Africa, England and Dadong / China is scheduled for spring 2023.

The company’s goal is to virtually 100% plan and simulate all processes and the entire production system. “This opens up completely new possibilities for us to implement both large new planning and small conversions into existing facilities in a highly efficient, precise and flexible way.“, says Michele Melchiorre, Head of Production Systems, Planning, Tool and Plant Engineering at the BMW Group.

Autonomous scanning robots for rescan processes

When it comes to digitizing plants, BMW relies on reality capture solutions and digital twins from Munich start-up NavVis. With the help of 3D laser scanners, among other things, it is possible to create photorealistic panoramic images, floor plans and point clouds in minute detail and include all building structures, systems and outdoor areas.

Since November 2020, approximately four million square meters of indoor areas and nine million square meters of outdoor areas of the factory areas have been scanned with portable mobile scanning systems and drone systems. Smaller and larger conversions should be registered using a rescan process, for which BMW is developing its own self-contained scanning robots to ensure that digital inventory data is up-to-date in the long term without additional staff effort.

External partners receive partial extracts

As BMW explains, around 15,000 employees currently use cloud-based software and web browser, the BMW Factory Viewer, based on NavVis IVION, to virtually inspect existing plants, specific production points through stored points of interest to find or carry out measurements. . Individual areas of 3D scans can also be cropped and made available to external suppliers, for example, to reduce time and effort in production planning or to eliminate planning errors.

BMW creates a digital twin for every plant (Image: BMW)

The Hungarian plant is planned for Nvidia Omniverse

For completely new and future production facilities, the BMW Group is also relying on collaboration with Nvidia and their Omniverse. The first plant planned in the Omniverse is the new headquarters in Debrecen, Hungary. “Already today, about three years before the start of series production, we are able to virtually simulate key processes in our future plant.‘explains Melchiorre. The Omniverse allows BMW factory planners to visit factories at virtually any time and from anywhere, to jointly develop production systems in the simulated world, to compare best practices and share information across the network.

Nvidia Omniverse is a collaboration platform on which digital worlds can be created and connected. The platform uses the Universal Scene Description (USD) originally developed by Pixar as “HTML for 3D rendering” in order to maintain compatibility between professional applications of the 3D environment, including those of Adobe, Autodesk, Blender, Graphisoft, MathWorks or others The Unreal Motor. The services for the management of digital worlds are managed through Omniverse Nucleus, while the so-called connectors are intended as plugins for client applications that connect to the Omniverse.

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