REGENSBURG, Germany—This Bavarian city nestled along the Danube River is famous for its perfectly preserved Medieval architecture. It’s also home to one of BMW’s most flexible assembly plants, which produces nine different models on a single production line.

The facility has just started to make electric vehicles. The new iX1 SUV and its high-voltage battery are produced in Regensburg, which is applying Industry 4.0 technology, such as artificial intelligence, data analytics and digital twins, to boost productivity and improve quality.

As part of a recent pilot project, the plant was digitally mapped. The resulting digital twin enables highly efficient planning of future line layouts and production facilities.

The plant’s paint shop, for instance, relies on artificial intelligence. Paint surfaces are scanned to ensure flawless quality and then finished using a fully-automated program customized for each vehicle.

“Artificial intelligence is also used in vehicle assembly,” says Carsten Regent, plant manager. “AI-supported image recognition methods assist employees with quality inspections. The computer system that is used for this learns to recognize objects from sample images, making it a useful supplement to conventional, camera-based quality inspections.”

In addition, predictive maintenance ensures that technical faults in production equipment are detected early, before system downtime can occur. Installations and machinery are monitored through automated evaluation of process data.