Robot trolleys (self)drive up productivity at BMW

Robot trolleys (self)drive up productivity at BMW

Some of BMW’s factory floors are seeing new workers underfoot, and they aren’t the usual summer interns. The German car maker is trying out suitcase-sized robot trolleys in some of its factories as part of an initiative to cut costs by 5%.

Automotive News Europe reports that the self-driving vehicles debuted this month in Wackersdorf, Germany at BMW’s logistics center. The robots were tasked with autonomously seeking out and transporting targeted parts containers from one area to another for packing.

BMW makes the robotic vehicles in-house and – after a six-month trial – will introduce the trolleys to other warehouses.

The advantage of the robotic trolleys is that it improves inventory flows and response times, which cuts costs of manually moving parts around the factory, according to BMW’s production chief Oliver Zipse.

“If I’m not smart about getting the right parts to the right places, the whole line becomes cluttered with parts standing around,” said Zipse.

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