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BMW opens automated steel pressing facility

An new automated steel pressing facility at the UK Swindon plant of the BMW Group will produce steel panels for the Mini car plant in Oxford at a considerably higher rate than the old equipment it replaces. The steel blanks and finished panels are handled by a new fleet of automatic guided vehicles (AGVs).

Automatic guided vehicles can transport up to six tonnes of material. Image: BMW Group

Acceleration through automatic guided vehicles

The use of AGVs throughout the process has streamlined logistics considerably, in particular with the use of a large AGVs which can transport up to six tonnes of material. According to BMW, this is a technological first step for the company and the facility will be rolled out in other press shops around the company’s global network of manufacturing plant. In total, 23 new AGVs have been commissioned in the new facilities, with more planned over the next few years.

The new press is made up of six individual stations which can produce up to 18 parts per minute – more than twice the capacity of the previous press line, says the manufacturer. The time taken to swap the pressing tools is said to be significantly reduced too, from at least 30 minutes, to a little over three minutes. The press can apply a pressure of 2,500 tonnes.

Saving energy and resources in the building

According to the manufacturer, the building has numerous environmental features including water harvesting from the roof to provide water to all non-drinking water supplies. There is also a system which uses the heat from the press hydraulics to heat the main hall. This along with smaller touches such as LED lighting and the long glass roof windows running down the centre of the building creates a light bright working environment, reduces the reliance on artificial light and contributes to achieving energy saving and sustainability targets.

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