BMW Group wins prestigious German logistics award

BMW Group has won the Logistik-Preis, the leading annual German logistics award, for its ‘Logistics Next’ project which was launched in 2016. Logistics Next is aimed at using state-of-the-art technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Industry 4.0 concepts and autonomous transport systems to improve BMW’s agility and responsiveness to everyday changes in the automotive industry. The award was presented to BMW by the Bundesvereinigung Logistik (BVL) during the Logistik-Kongres 2019 held in Berlin in late October.

“We have a clear vision of the future and are always thinking about how to use tomorrow’s technologies today. Logistics processes are becoming ever-more complex, but our innovative approach enables us to use them efficiently, gain transparency and hence continuously develop our production system,” commented Jürgen Maidl, Head of Logistics at BMW Group.

BMW is working on several different technologies simultaneously at its four main plants – Dingolfing, Leipzig, Regensburg and München – and the system partners have regular contact to share their findings with one another. This enables new technologies to be gradually tested and integrated into the company’s processes all the time.

Pioneer in autonomous transport systems

BMW is also pioneering the use of autonomous outdoor transport systems. In a pilot project in Leipzig, for example, the firm is using an autonomous outdoor transport robot (‘AutoTrailer’) to move HGV trailers from the parking area to the loading/unloading bay. Meanwhile, in Dingolfing, the ‘Autobox’ autonomously manoeuvres payloads of up to 25 tonnes around the factory based on a non-guided indoor navigation system.

Although BMW has substantially automated its material transport activities, the materials and parts still have to be transferred between the various process steps manually by human operators. The company is therefore also working together with external partners and universities to develop robots that can handle such tasks autonomously.

Advanced phase of digital transformation

BMW’s Logistics Next project fought off stiff competition from two other worthy finalists: Airbus Operations GmbH and Loxxess AG. But the judging panel chose Logistics Next as the ultimate winner because the project is already in such an advanced phase of digital transformation. “The long-term focus of the objectives and plans, the consistency of the execution, and the enthusiasm and team spirit of the project team are refreshing, innovative and exemplary – as is the collaboration between the Production, Logistics and IT departments at various sites,” explained head judge Matthias Wissmann.