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      03-23-2005, 01:43 PM   #1
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Article on BMW's new purchasing/processing/production approach for the E90

This is for us BMW car production process geeks I'm a bimmer freak alright. I love reading everything about the cars, including all the behind the scenes stuff. Anyways, here's something I found about BMW's new approach to building/procuring the parts for the new E90.
I found it interesting that the e90 shares 52% of its components with the 1 series!

Monday, 21 March 2005
The program for the new BMW 3 Series has benefited substantially from better integration of the carmaker's divisional responsibilities in the supply selection process, says Dr Wolfgang Epple, group project director for the program at BMW.

For the first time production people sat alongside purchasing and product development executives in the process to select around 100 core suppliers.

That brought a new dimension to the decision, said Epple, because the production side has had experience with the previous suppliers over six and seven years and has got to know them well.
The resulting selection contributed to a fast three-month ramp up from start of production (SOP) to full production. "The most critical point usually is when you increase the volume, especially at the supplier, and you go into a second production line" with people that might not have been trained as well as the first group, said Epple. But that problem was largely avoided with pilot production runs at suppliers and checks on their schedules and infrastructure. "We had fewer problems as far as quality is concerned," said Epple, "and that I think is partly because of that decision process."

New 3 Series makes greater use of modules
The new 3 Series makes great use of modules than its predecessor. The dashboard for example is fitted as a module on the assembly line. It's assembled off - line but in-house at BMW’s plant in Munich, but outsourced to suppliers in Leipzig and at BMW's plant in South Africa. Headliners are also largely modularized, and the model has a new front-end module.

BMW gave some core suppliers more responsibility in the development of the vehicle systems -- such as the air-conditioning system developed by Valeo and communication system developed by Siemens VDO.

Supplier resident engineers worked side-by-side with BMW engineers in a large development area at BMW's FIZ engineering centre in Munich.

"What is influencing the time schedule is essentially communication" says Epple, "car development means changing components, and whenever one of the 20- odd thousand components has to be changed or modified due to technical requirements, the environment usually has to change as well."

The program took BMW's standard 30 months from design freeze to SOP " plus or minus 10%" said Epple. The shorter communication lines, together with a greater focus on virtual assembly of the components in the virtual 3-D simulation using experienced line operators in front of the screen, meant that individual modifications were undertaken more quickly and improved the quality of the output said Epple.

Costs were reduced and quality improved by separate verification of the electronic hardware and software system interfaces in a separate area.

Bigger component volumes through shared components
The new 3 Series will also benefit from better scale economies than its predecessor. The car uses many of the systems and components developed for the 5 Series for example. The navigation and audio system have been carried over from the 5 Series, and the larger car’s innovative active steering system has been refined and used on the new car with additional functionality. The active steering system is linked to the stability control system for the first time. The supplier of the active steering system is ZF Lenksysteme, which also supplies the 5 Series.

More importantly from a cost point of view, the car shares 52% of its components by value with the 1 Series said Epple.

In addition to engines and gearboxes, the two models share a common heating system for example, which has enabled BMW to dual source the bigger volumes.

From a financial point of view shared components have reduced costs, said Epple, and the new 3 Series has been able to benefit from experience of the 1 Series’ launch six months ago. "If you can use components which are already in series production, that helps to improve quality" said Epple.

BMW's component purchasing is the focus of a special article in Issue 2, 2005 of monthly, which reports on the strategy of new materials purchasing director Dr Klaus Richter, and suppliers’ recent experiences of BMW purchasing.