The BMW Group has invested R2.2 billion between 2009 and 2012 in building the new BMW 3 Series at BMW Plant Rosslyn near Pretoria, where series production was launched recently.
"The BMW 3 Series is the most important volume-produced model by the BMW Group as well as the biggest-selling model in the entire premium segment. At the same time, every generation of the 3 Series Sedan has been built in Rosslyn and since 1999 this plant has been responsible for production for important export markets such as the USA, Canada, Japan, Singapore and Australasia to name but a few," said Frank-Peter Arndt, chairman of BMW South Africa. "In 2009 - when the economic crisis reached its peak - we decided to invest R2.2 billion to increase production capacity here in South Africa in order to produce the new BMW 3 Series Sedan. This was the clearest statement we could make at the time," he said.
Investment safeguarded jobs
Speaking at an event to commemorate the official start of production of the new model, Arndt explained that while this investment safeguarded around 2 500 jobs in the middle of the recession it will ultimately lead to significant increases in production, export and employment in the years to come.
"Even though the global economic outlook remains uncertain, we remain true to our commitment to this production location. By the end of this year, we plan to introduce a third shift. This will significantly increase the installed production capacity above 90 000 units. It will more than double BMW 3 Series exports from South Africa and it will create 600 new jobs at Plant Rosslyn," said Arndt.
Latest-generation robots in body shop and paintshop
For the production of the BMW 3 Series, numerous new robots were installed taking the total number of robots from 99 with the previous vehicle to 149 with the new car. In addition, latest-generation laser robots and advanced bonding robots are being used.
In the paintshop, new robot facilities have also been installed for seam sealing, flange sealing and undersealing. There is also a new foaming machine for firewall sound insulation. This feeds the sound-insulating material into the cavity, where it is foamed. The result is significantly improved sound insulation between the engine compartment and the passenger cell, making for a noticeable enhancement of interior comfort.
High production efficiency
In the assembly shop, meanwhile, standardised modular product and process architectures ensure high productivity and variability. The production process of the new BMW 3 Series systematically applies the BMW Group strategy of multi-version production on the same main assembly line. In other words, different variants of a model series are simultaneously built on the same production line. With these innovative production processes, new manufacturing facilities and cutting-edge technologies, the Rosslyn plant sets exemplary standards for sustainable and eco-friendly production. With the new BMW 3 Series, BMW has succeeded in implementing production processes that dramatically reduce non-recyclable waste and the generation of solid waste, waste-water and emissions, as well as cutting noise and vibration to a minimum.
Through such highly efficient resource management, the Rosslyn plant has already accomplished a great deal by implementing sustainable measures throughout the value chain. In the last five years alone, Plant Rosslyn has reduced resources utilised in production considerably. The production process now uses 25% less energy, 50% less water and 50% less waste, all while producing 25% less carbon emissions per car produced.
When combined with the energy reductions made at the BMW Group's South African head-office in Midrand this amounts to more than R50-million in energy savings since 2006.
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