Automotive company using the IoT to improve warehouse productivity

Automotive company BMW is using Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to increase warehouse efficiency and productivity as well as customer satisfaction and overall revenues.
By Malek Murison July 24, 2016

Automotive company BMW is using Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to increase warehouse efficiency and productivity as well as customer satisfaction and overall revenues. Courtesy: Internet of BusinessIn Munich, Germany, car manufacturer BMW has a repair center with a capacity of around 800 vehicles.

Before the introduction of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, only 250 cars were processed every day. This was nothing to do with the availability of mechanics. It was more of a logistical problem. Locating the cars and getting them to where they needed to be inside the warehouse was a difficult procedure.

Arthur Schmidt, head of information technology (IT) for the BMW Niederlassung München, explained that this scenario was far from ideal.

"We had no system in place to track where cars were. It was all done manually with staff writing everything on paper and it was not very efficient at all," he said.

Schmidt set about the process of installing an IoT network at the facility. The new network was designed to track the location of vehicles. This was a move Schmidt knew, if done correctly, would have a huge impact on efficiency.

But as with any new IoT project, securing investment wasn’t a given. "Me and the boss had to go away and search for this money and convince many, many people it was worth investing in," Schmidt said. "Since then, it’s paid for itself many, many times over."

Small sensors make a big difference

The repair warehouse was fitted with multiple sensors after approaching a third-party supplier. These were installed throughout the facility, and the new system required every driver who brings in a car for servicing to attach a tag connected to the network to the rear-view mirror.

With the new network up and running, the location of the vehicle is now always known while it’s in the building. This saves time and reduces operational mistakes. Cars are easy to locate, while the process of delivering a car after work on it has finished has been drastically sped up.

BMW’s repair center increases capacity, customer satisfaction 

The connected network of sensors has increased the number of cars the Munich facility can handle every day from 250 to 600—an increase that has had a positive impact on both customer satisfaction and revenues.

"Before people had to go and find the car and then deliver it, which could waste a lot of time. With the IoT system it’s easy to find the car and operate far more efficiently," Schmidt said.

In the future, Schmidt foresees more developments to improve the relationship between BMW and its customers.

"We want to give customers even more transparency," he said. "Soon, we hope to offer iOS and Android apps that let them know exactly where in the process their car is and what’s been done, and let them contact our staff directly from the app."

Malek Murison is editor at Internet of Business, which is hosting the Internet of Manufacturing Conference November 1-2, 2016, in Chicago. Internet of Business is a CFE Media content partner. This article originally appeared here. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media, cvavra@cfemedia.com.

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