Like many manufacturers, the BMW automobile plant in Regensburg, Germany, has long used tracking devices to monitor its production processes and provide traceability of its products.
In recent years, these systems have included a number of handheld scanning systems, which allow operators to quickly import vehicle data that is then stored in a central database.
However, BMW has now further improved its tracking capabilities by implementing a new tool assistance system (TAS) from tracking equipment provider Ubisense, along with a location identification system (LIS) developed jointly by Ubisense and the software company IBS AG.
The system works by continuously evaluating the spatial relationship between the line’s automated production systems and the vehicles being processed. A positive “relationship event” is generated when a mobile tool enters a predefined zone around the vehicle, or when the vehicle enters a zone around an item of automated equipment.
Each “event” causes a vehicle-specific program to be loaded into the tool in question, or starts an automation system with the correct program for the particular vehicle detected. Typical tools and equipment controlled by the system include torque tools, riveting hammers, diagnostic equipment and programmable logic controllers.
LIS/TAS is fully integrated into BMW’s production IT environment via the system’s IBS communications platform, and is in production across the entire Regensburg assembly plant, controlling approximately 120 tool systems used to produce about 1,000 cars per day.
Vehicle location in 3D is performed in real-time via Ubisense tags located on the cars and a series of sensors mounted at fixed locations along the production line.
“The introduction of LIS/TAS has [eliminated] the need to scan vehicles in order to identify them,” says Andreas Lehner, project manager at BMW Regensburg. “All the project objectives have been met on time and within the planned budget. From the standpoint of value creation, the project is a complete success.”
For more on process monitoring and tracking, visit www.ubisense.net.