BMW’s New System Ensures Quality with the Wave of a Hand
Technology is seeping into every facet of the automotive manufacturing process. Now, BMW is taking that technology one step further by using a new system to inspect bumpers for defects. BMW developed a new system that enables workers to point out bumper defects with simple hand gestures. Here at Bill Jacobs BMW, we feel this newly introduced technology will be a major turning point for increasing efficiency in production.
The technology, currently in a pilot phase at the company’s Landshut site, uses a camera-based detection system, like those used in the gaming industry. The process starts before the bumpers are even mounted onto the vehicles. Workers can check the quality of the parts and each found flaw is recorded in a system and subsequently evaluated. Before the new technology, workers had to document those defects on a PC, which took time and could be very complex.
The solution was developed in cooperation with Fruanhofer Institute. The system recognizes interactions between the inspector and the bumper so they can identify the defects by simply pointing at them. A wiping motion means the vehicle’s bumper has no flaws. Pointing a finger at a flaw allows the system to register this movement using a camera before being evaluated and stored in the program.
The system is controlled with two 3D mounted cameras around the workplaces. The sensors radiate infrared light through a filter that beams an grid of fixed points across the room, building up a 3D model of the bumper which is then stored in the system.
A system like this has a number of advantages. Workers can detect, record, and evaluate a flaw without having to turn away, making quality control faster and more accurate. It also limits the use of special equipment like glasses or gloves.
The system is easy to use and requires no extra training time so it doesn’t interrupt the workflow. If the pilot program is a success, BMW is preparing to apply the system in series production.