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      10-13-2008, 11:23 AM   #1
Big Windy
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M3 Production Process at Regensburg Plant Tour

EDIT: Added more pics. One of the giant press machine and the press molds, another one that shows the robots, an assembly line shot, and a final "marriage" shot.

Gents,

Just got back from a trip to the Regensburg BMW Plant. I wanted to do a review with some pictures and facts. Overall, the tour was excellent and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is in the area or who ever visits Bavaria. The tour lasts about 2.5 hours, and it is relatively easy to schedule a time with BMW via email. It was awesome to see exactly how BMW makes our cars, and I am definitely more appreciative of my car now after seeing how it was brought to life. The amount of robots and people that are employed, and the amount of detail that BMW takes with even the smallest things is truly something else.

Anyway, here is a description of the production process and a couple other things I learned. It is a bit lengthy...

The production process from start to finish of an M3 is approximately 30 hours. The entire process starts in the "press shop" where a 4,000 ton press makes the main parts of the car from hot galvanized steel which is brought in from Austria. The M3's bonnet is made in the press with a special press mold which weighs 20 tons! After the press shop, the shell of the car goes to the body shop. Here, the car goes through a bunch of stations which are "manned" by robots. The robots perform welding and gluing functions in order to shape the body of the car together. There are quality control measures at the end of each station where robotic arms with lasers verify dimensions and the proper proportions. At the end of this stage, each M3 body is pulled off the line to receive special care from handwelders (there is a pic of this station below that has one shell and a BMW/Mini sign Werkzeug und Anlagenbau) where they put in special welding points to fit the exhaust system. I forgot to mention that each shell has a special transponder that not only allows BMW to track each car, but it is scanned at each station so the robots or the workers know what action to perform or which option to install. After this stage, the cars go into the paint shop. We were not allowed to go in here because they are currently test painting the 2010 Z4. There were already a few completed models that were in the assembly line, but they were covered with blue tarps so we could not see them. After the paint shop, the cars are moved to the
car warehouse (pic below as well). I was amazed by this. It looks like an enormous stack of mail boxes but instead of letters, there are cars. The big orange arm stacks the cars into the boxes and pulls them out as their number comes up for the assembly line. Once the car is taken out, it goes to the assembly line. The assembly line is manned by actual workers, and this is where your car is made according to your specification. This is also where the "marriage" takes place between engine/chassis and body (see the pics of the white M3 convertible at the end). From this point in time, it is only 2 1/2 hours until the car is finished. It continues to go through the line to receive the specific options, wheels, fluids, and 20 liters of gasoline. After the car receives gas, it goes outside to the track or the parking lot.

I also learned a couple other interesting things that you might not know. First of all, the M3's seats and bumpers are both outsourced to another company. I don't know who makes the bumpers, but I know that they come to the Regensburg factory painted by a non-BMW organization. The bumper is mounted in the final stage right before the car gets its wheels. For the seats, these are also outsourced, but BMW plans to insource them starting next year in order to cut production costs. I asked the tour guide why the US convertibles get the "euro seat" and the sedan and coupe do not, and he explained that it has to do with the way that the seats are labeled by the third party before they come to BMW. Because the vert came after the coupe and sedan, it avoided a US designation in the seat's nomenclature. The original intent was that all US platforms would get the US seat, but because of the way that BMW labeled the parts from the seat vendor, it just turned out that the US vert got the euro seats. Sounds crazy to me...

Another thing that I didn't know is that all US vehicles are test driven before they are loaded for transportation. There is a certain system to determine which ones are driven down a 400m straight line and which ones are taken on the test track, but every US vehicle gets some sort of a test drive to check interior noise and overall car/engine operation. The reason for this is because if there is something wrong with the car, it is obviously much cheaper for BMW if they catch it before they pay to ship it to the US. Euro spec BMW's are test driven on a 1 out of every 15 vehicle basis.

At the end of the tour, we got free drinks and we got to stand around an awesome glass table with an M3 engine beneath it to ask questions. I also got a poster and a unique M3 brochure.

As I said, it was a great time. I'll gladly go again if anyone is out this way! Enjoy...
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Last edited by Big Windy; 10-14-2008 at 11:01 AM. Reason: Added some more pics
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      10-13-2008, 11:54 AM   #2
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Excellent post Big Windy!! I just wanted to add that people can see something very similar when visiting the Spartanburg plant in SC. Of course, you will not see M3 cars coming to life there....but you will probably be able to spot some Z4 M models and other X5 and X6! What amazed me most was the fact that the cars are truly built in the order the sales order are posted in the system. A direct consequence is that you will not see a batch of white cars, then some black, etc... but you will truly see a mix of colors that are just a function of when the cars were ordered (amazingly, it takes less than 30 seconds to BMW to switch the set-up of their pain shop when switching from color A to color B!!).
Concerning the Quality checks, it seemed that all cars had to undergo a "static" test where the engine would be ramped up according to a specific standard. Depending on the outcome of this test as well as based on a certain frequency, some cars would be further inspected and/or test driven on a track.

Anyhow, just like Big Windy, after I had done the plant tour, I came to appreciate even more my car. BMW FTW!!!
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      10-13-2008, 12:21 PM   #3
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Awesome info - thanks.
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      10-13-2008, 01:07 PM   #4
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Great writeup I enjoyed reading that very much!
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      10-13-2008, 01:47 PM   #5
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Great writeup! Pretty slick with the camera. I went last month and there were a couple of Z4 bodies in the holding warehouse. I would have gone with you but I spent the long weekend at the Ring.
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      10-13-2008, 01:54 PM   #6
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I liked the write up, I ordered mine and will be gettin it soon.... It is cool to know how these cars are built.
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      10-13-2008, 02:04 PM   #7
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awesome thanks for sharing
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      10-13-2008, 03:08 PM   #8
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Very cool!
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      10-13-2008, 03:36 PM   #9
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Great review, learned something new
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      10-13-2008, 04:41 PM   #10
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that is tits! i wish i had a table like that!
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      10-13-2008, 04:56 PM   #11
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Awesome post, thanks for the info! My car must have been one of the ones that got the spot check on the track. It's all water under the bridge now (at 4900 miles), but did they say how long those tests could be?

Thanks!
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      10-13-2008, 05:56 PM   #12
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Thanks for the write-up and pictures!
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      10-13-2008, 06:57 PM   #13
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nice write up! thanks for sharing
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      10-13-2008, 07:11 PM   #14
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You must have been super stealthy taking the pics!!

Very nice, thanks for sharing.

Last edited by alpineweissM3; 10-13-2008 at 07:53 PM.
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      10-14-2008, 07:31 AM   #15
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Neutraubling (Regensburg) Tour info

Windy,

I live in Regensburg and would like to take the tour! How do I go about it? They are making my car as we speak and it would be cool to see it built! Thanks
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      10-14-2008, 09:32 AM   #16
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Thanks for the info! I'd love to do this, but I'll just have to live vicariously through you.

But, you better watch out, I hear that the BMW police are after you now.
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      10-14-2008, 09:47 AM   #17
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wow that's awesome. Thanks for sharing.
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      10-14-2008, 10:21 AM   #18
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Kudos for the photos Big Wind!
you're hired for Bimmerpost Special Agent.

... I know when I went to Spartanburg plant we were able to get those photos. I dont know what so big secret about it though. But
WOW! great stuff! seeing the M3 put together

Last edited by ase2dais; 10-14-2008 at 03:38 PM.
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      10-14-2008, 10:25 AM   #19
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Fantastic review and post! I enjoyed reading it. Its kind of neat to see the M3 in the various stages of production.
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      10-14-2008, 10:32 AM   #20
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thanks for sharing man, pretty cool!

but couldn't you get into a lot of trouble for posting those pics?
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      10-14-2008, 11:05 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by farbarg View Post
Awesome post, thanks for the info! My car must have been one of the ones that got the spot check on the track. It's all water under the bridge now (at 4900 miles), but did they say how long those tests could be?

Thanks!
well, i am not sure of the exact track length, but it is probably around two miles. according to the guide, the track has different bumps, turns, and surfaces to test the noises and proper function of the car.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmornoinf View Post
Windy,

I live in Regensburg and would like to take the tour! How do I go about it? They are making my car as we speak and it would be cool to see it built! Thanks
go to the regensburg factory's website (google it) and then send them an email requesting a tour. Just tell them how many are in your group, whether you want german or english, and they'll tell you times that are available. they do tours at 830 and 1330.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ersin View Post
Thanks for the info! I'd love to do this, but I'll just have to live vicariously through you.

But, you better watch out, I hear that the BMW police are after you now.
good thing i just got my 2000km service and can go faster than the polizei then...

Quote:
Originally Posted by View Post
thanks for sharing man, pretty cool!

but couldn't you get into a lot of trouble for posting those pics?
i certainly hope not...the tours are open to the public...
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      10-14-2008, 11:12 AM   #22
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Awesome tour..i wish I can take that tour if I have time! Nice post!
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