Driving 3D Printing into Future Factories: BMW Group Personal Mover Concept
For many industries recent advances in Additive Manufacturing (AM) have opened doors for newer, more robust designs; lighter, stronger, and safer products; reduced lead times; and reduced costs, particularly regarding mobility. Today we can drive, we can fly, we can cruise and we can innovate – we’re moving in completely different ways according to our shifting needs.
To make the life of employees easier and more efficient, BMW experts drawn from the Research & Technology House in Garching, Germany, and the central aftersales logistics network at Dingolfing, Germany, took up the challenge to create a mobility solution for their colleagues at other BMW facilities. The genesis of this project was simple:
Employees at BMW Group plants and logistics centers sometimes cover up to 12 kilometers per day on foot – and having to carry small parts and work materials often make it even harder. Sites such as the BMW Group Research and Innovation Center in Munich or the BMW Group plants in Dingolfing and Spartanburg are sprawling campuses, where many employees have to cover huge distances to do their jobs. (source)
The thought was, why not sort a solution that can carry a person, and light cargo over short distances within operating sites as diverse as manufacturing facilities, airports or even theme parks? Or, to take one step further, why not use additive manufacturing technology to print a solution? An evaluation of existing options did not provide satisfactory solutions that met the requirements. The team concluded that only a custom design developed in-house would work. The design at BMW come up with the Personal Mover Concept. As conceived via the design process, the Personal Mover’s body features a platform on which a person can stand comfortably and still transport some light objects. The mover can accelerate to a maximum speed of 25 km/hr and turns on the spot to the left or right up to 90°. The handlebar contains the entire electrical system, the battery and the drive wheel. Having in mind the safety of users and pedestrians, the Personal Mover Concept includes a bell, brake and a dead man’s control. One of the most innovative facts about this object is that the handlebar stand has been 3D-printed on the BigRep ONE. As Richard Kamissek, Head of the Operations Central Aftersales Logistics Network department said, “It had to be flexible, easy to maneuver, zippy, electric, extremely agile and tilt-proof – and, at the same time, suitable for carrying objects. The Personal Mover Concept can do all of this – and it is also fun to drive. We hope to start using it as soon as possible!”
Being a part of this innovative idea is not only making us proud but also giving us food for thought. If, thanks to 3D printing technology, mobility advancements are helping us improve the automotive, aerospace and electric vehicle industries, are there any limits for how far transport can go? Large-scale 3D printing can truly change the way companies innovate. We see everything from prototyping to the whole production process, where 3D-printed objects are present in everyday life and being used all over the world. Starting with factories, we expect to see these kinds of mobility tools in use at airports, shopping malls or warehouses.
3D printing can improve our environment in faster, more cost-efficient and creative ways. That makes it the ideal technology for supporting mobility innovations and creates a range of excellent opportunities for various industries. We were thrilled to learn of this smart project, and we cannot wait to see what tomorrow will bring for the 3D printing industry, BMW Group and for the entire network of BigRep customers and partners.