Oxford’s Mini iFactory runs on S/4Hana

BMW’s new factory for the electric mini in Oxford is using SAP S/4 Hana. The Mini plant in Cowley, Oxford is the first of BMW Group’s connected factories based on a digitised cloud architecture.

BMW recently announced £600m investment in developing the plant to support the production of electric cars. The Mini Plant Oxford currently produces the Mini 3-door, the Mini 5-door as well as the Mini Clubman and the Mini Electric.

From 2024, the plant will start producing the next generation Mini 3-door and Mini 5-door with combustion engines, as well as the new Mini Convertible, before they are joined by the all-electric vehicles in 2026 – the Mini Cooper 3-door and the Mini Aceman.

BMW plans to spend £600m on updating the Cowley plant, developing the production lines, extending its body shop and building a new area for installing batteries. It also plans to build additional logistics facilities at Cowley and the Swindon factory.

The plant is part of BMW’s iFactory strategy for future automotive production.

Discussing the iFactory strategy in 2022, Milan Nedeljković, member of the board of management for production at BMW, said the aim was to network all relevant aspects of automotive production in a new way and achieve maximum data transparency, which will offer the company what he claimed would be an “enormously effective form of digital process design”.

“The BMW iFactory is advancing digitisation by taking data consistency to a completely new level along the entire value chain and across every one of our process chains,” he said. “We use digital innovations to create effective use cases in production – because for us, innovation and efficiency go hand in hand.”

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BMW Group selected SAP S/4Hana and SAP’s supply chain logistics software as a blueprint for process digitisation of automotive plants of the future, establishing a new technology standard that SAP and BMW claim could shape the automotive industry.

Each of BMW’s upcoming iFactory sites will make use of RISE with SAP. BMW Group said it expects to benefit from the standardisation of logistics processes worldwide, mutual plant support, flexible workforce allocation, and synergy in support and training.

“The Oxford plant is the first plant that will follow a global roll-out within the BMW Group,” said Alexander Buresch, chief innovation officer and senior vice-president at BMW Group IT.

“From now on, more plants from the worldwide production network will be added every year until they all speak the same language. As part of our digitisation and harmonisation strategy, this new solution allows us to link relevant product, process, quality and cost data, which enables data consistency and transparency across the production chain.”

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