BMW and Nvidia use AI to enhance assembly line
The BMW Group and Nvidia are creating a completely new approach to planning highly complex manufacturing systems using the Omniverse platform.
Developed by Nvidia, the Omniverse platform is a virtual factory planning tool that integrates a range of planning data and applications, and also allows real-time collaboration with unrestricted compatibility.
BMW are planning on making drivetrains for electric vehicles later in 2021 at a factory in Regensburg, Bavaria, but before this can happen the whole manufacturing process will run in realistic detail inside of a virtual version of the factory.
This simulation of the factory allows managers to plan the production process in more detail than ever before, explains Markus Grüeneisl, who leads production strategy at BMW. “We now have a perfect digital twin of our real-time production,” he says.
Virtual factory planning
Manufacturers have previously used computer simulations to improve their assembly lines, but nothing quite like Omniverse. This allows the process to be simulated with photo realistic quality, also with physical properties such as different materials and gravity. It is possible to see how changes in one part of the production can have a knock on effect on another, and it is easier to build a more complex virtual environment because different 3D models can be imported into the system.
Milan Nedeljković, BMW AG Board Member for Production: “Together we’re about to make a huge leap forward and open up completely new perspectives in the field of virtual, digital planning. In the future a virtual representation of our production network will allow us to realise an innovative, integrated approach to our planning processes. Omniverse greatly enhances the precision, speed and consequently the efficiency of our planning processes.”
The software will also simulate avatars of human workers grabbing parts and tools, and assembling components, to find the best procedure and minimise basic problems.
There is a growing interest in using AI in industrial machines and robots. Worldwide revenues for the AI market, including software, hardware, and services, are forecast to grow 16.4 per cent year over year in 2021 to US$327.5bn, according to the latest release of the International Data Corporation (IDC). Valuates report found that AI in manufacturing market size is projected to reach US$4798m by 2026, from US$840m in 2019, at a CAGR of 28.1 per cent during 2021-2026.
Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR
Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).
These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack.
“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”
“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”
“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR
- Empower employees productivity and collaboration
- Improve fan engagement and experience
- Improve environment security and IT productivity
- Improve racing operations
Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.
“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”
“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives.
“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.
Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”