The German carmaker is betting on the power of industrial artificial intelligence (AI) to transform production and increase efficiency.
1. Virtual factory
The world’s first virtual factory has been in the making for the past two years by BMW Group and Nvidia Omniverse. The project, based on AI technology, is a metaverse custom-designed for companies to plan and optimize industrial processes. The virtual factory mimics BMW’s future 400-hectare plant in Debrecen, Hungary, which will reportedly produce around 150,000 electric vehicles every year when it opens in 2025.
Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang shared a demo at the AI Conference, GTC, joined by BMW Group’s Milan Nedeljković, member of the board of management, where the automaker’s first entirely virtual factory, powered by Nvidia Omniverse, was officialy announced.
The masterminds behind the virtual factory are Ross Krambergar, who runs geometric simulations for virtual commissioning at BMW Group, and Rev Lebaredian, vice president of Omniverse and simulation technology at Nvidia. The Santa Clara-based company, Nvidia, mostly known for making gaming graphic cards and creating AI technology magic, has been developing Omniverse for over 25 years, enabling manufacturing companies to plan and optimize multibillion-dollar factory projects entirely virtually.
“One of the biggest problems that [industrial companies] have is that they don’t actually get to see whether their factory is going to work until they’ve built it,” said Lebaredian quoted by Fast Company. By experimenting virtually, industrial companies can get to production faster and operate more efficiently, improving time to market, digitalization and sustainability.
With Nvidia Omniverse and AI, we set up new factories paster and produce more efficiently than ever. It all starts with planning — a complex process in which we need to connect many tools, datasets and specialists around the world.Milan Nedeljković, member the board of management of BMW AG
3. Transforming production
With the AI technology supporting the Omniverse, BMW is able to bridge existing software and data repositories from leading industrial computer-aided design and engineering tools such as Siemens Process Simulate, Autodesk Revit, and Bentley Systems MicroStation. This interoperability allows everyone to see in real time what’s going on with each other’s work. With this unified view, BMW is powering its internal teams and external partners to collaborate and share knowledge and data from existing factories to help in the planning of new ones.
“One of the planners told me that a design freeze that typically can take up to three days now only took one hour,” said Krambergar.