SPARTANBURG, SC-It has been more than a year since BMW Manufacturing announced it would invest $750 million in its upstate South Carolina factory to add 1.5 million square feet. Since that time, design, engineering and construction crews have been busy constructing the new 1.2 million square foot assembly facility and have added 80%, or 300,000 square feet, to the existing paint shop.

This investment is the largest ever announced for the Spartanburg County factory, increasing investments of the BMW Group in its South Carolina operations to nearly $4.6 billion (total investment for BMW through 2008 is $3.9 billion).

The new assembly facility is now fully enclosed and equipment is being installed. Expansion construction to the existing paint shop also is complete and new equipment is being tested. A new 1/3-mile conveyor system has been constructed to connect the expanded paint shop to the new assembly hall.

“We are very pleased that construction is nearly complete and that the project is on budget and on time,” says BMW Manufacturing President Josef Kerscher.

The new plant design is very similar to BMW’s Leipzig plant in Germany, the newest plant within the BMW Global Production Network. It has been designed using “fingers.” The fingers are constructed along the sides of the new plant and allow for direct deliveries to the exact point of use on the production line.

A logistics warehouse also has been constructed as part of the new assembly facility. “We are committed to lean manufacturing and adding a logistics component attached to the plant was critical to ensure leaner processes and quicker delivery routes,” says Barbara Bergmeier, vice president of assembly.

In the expanded paint shop area, BMW has added several new technologies, many borrowed from other BMW plants, including the Leipzig plant in Germany.

One such technology is a new “RoDip” system. This new conveyor system represents a breakthrough in paint conveyor technology for pre-treat and e-coat processes. Previously, BMW Manufacturing used a “pendulum” system, similar to a ski lift, which carried the car along a rail and lowered it under the water. The new “RoDip” system rotates the entire vehicle 360 degrees through each process tank. This reduces the amount of chemicals that are “removed” from tank and reduces chemical and dirt deposits inside the vehicle.

“Many new and innovative technologies have been implemented into the new paint shop area. This is exciting for the entire BMW Global Production Network as we are creating synergies and increased efficiency by implementing lessons learned from around the globe,” says Doug Bartow, vice president for paint at BMW Manufacturing.

After the new paint shop and assembly facility are operational, the BMW plant in Spartanburg will manufacture the BMW X3, X5 Sports Activity Vehicle and X6 Sports Activity Coupe and their respective variants for more than 120 markets worldwide.

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