"Real laboratory" for testing future technologies

Opening of the Innovation Hub in the training center of the BMW Group plant in Dingolfing.

For the design of future-proof and resilient IT solutions for the Dingolfing location and the entire production network of the BMW Group, the so-called Innovation Hub established at the training centre of the BMW Group plant in Dingolfing at the end of last year – a secure development and testing area close to production for topics such as 5G, artificial intelligence or big data applications. Within the approximate 220 square meter Innovation Hub, various use cases will be developed in cooperation with renowned tech partners NTT Germany and Intel Germany, under the same conditions as in the BMW Group production network but without having to interrupt actual vehicle production. The Innovation Hub, where IT specialists and vocational trainees will work hand-in-hand, is equipped with the same robots, facilities, access options and systems as real production locations and thus functions as a small "plant within a plant" or "real laboratory" for the development of forward-looking IT solutions. Last Friday the official opening of the Innovation Hub took place at Dingolfing Vocational Training.

Numerous guests, such as Milan Nedeljković, Member of the Board of Management for Production at BMW AG; Kai Grunwitz, Managing Director of NTT Ltd. Germany; Hannes Schwaderer, Country Manager of Intel Deutschland GmbH; Dr. Marianne Janik, Managing Director of Microsoft Germany; Armin Grassinger, First Mayor of the City of Dingolfing; and Werner Bumeder, District Administrator of the Dingolfing-Landau district, were present at the official kickoff of the Innovation Hub along with other representatives of the BMW Group and cooperation partners.

A place where ideas become reality

"Innovation is the fuel of progress and the key to future-proof and competitive production. In our mission statement for the production plant of the future, the BMW iFACTORY, digitalization is a key enabler. It shapes all our manufacturing processes and helps us produce products more economically, sustainably, in a more customer-oriented manner and with higher quality. The Innovation Hub is the ideal place for ideas to become reality. I am very pleased to have renowned players from the tech industry on board," emphasized BMW AG's Board Member for Production, Milan Nedeljković, at the start of the event. “Bringing together the know-how and expertise of different partners to develop clever and effective solutions is a decisive factor,” he said. This is also confirmed by Kai Grunwitz, Managing Director of NTT Ltd. Germany: "The factory of the future will undoubtedly be digital and hyper-connected, and edge-to-cloud connectivity as well as NTT Private 5G (P5G) solutions will play a crucial role in this. In particular, 5G will unfold into the 'nervous system' of modern industry." Ralf Gebhart, SVP and Global Account Executive BMW, NTT DATA, emphasized: " NTT is very pleased to be part of the BMW Group Innovation Hub and jointly shape innovative concepts for the future of the automotive industry here at the Dingolfing site."

BMW junior staff as drivers of transformation

The decision to locate the Innovation Hub in Dingolfing's vocational training center is a very deliberate one. During their training period skilled workers of tomorrow immerse themselves in IT topics of the future and experience the new world of work. This younger generation then drives transformation forward with their acquired knowledge of the various technologies – in this sense they are multipliers. This is also a crucial point for Hannes Schwaderer, Country Manager of Intel Deutschland GmbH: "In the context of digital transformation, the modern professional world requires more and more technological skills, particularly from the specialists of the future. Preparing them for this is a concern that we at Intel have been addressing for a long time by working intensively on the digitization of education. We are, therefore, very excited about the collaboration in the Innovation Hub." The apprentices receive important exposure to various IT fields and can quickly specialize in future fields relevant to BMW as part of their vocational training. In addition, new professions in the field of information technology will be offered in the future, including IT systems electronics technicians and IT specialists, as confirmed by Christine Petrasch, Head of Human Resources at Dingolfing.

Planned: Deployment in the global BMW production network

The following two environments come together in the Innovation Hub: a training concept, where key technologies of the 21st century can be experienced, learned and taught to future generations of BMW Group employees; and the latest technology of Industry 4.0, including all the relevant IT solutions that can be tested for use in production. The aim is to transfer these technologies to the entire BMW Group production network worldwide after successful testing in the Dingolfing Innovation Hub.

Following the opening ceremonies, guests were able to see some of these proven use cases for themselves on site, such as the plant connection via the NTT Private 5G (P5G) network. At the conclusion of the event, the guests were treated to a vehicle presentation highlighting the new BMW 7 Series, which has recently been rolling off the Dingolfing assembly lines in its all-electric BMW i7 version.

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