Flexible Assembly Lines for the Front and Rear Ends of the new X5 and X6

The existing bodyshell line at the BMW works in Spartanburg has had to be modified for production of the latest versions of the BMW X5 and X6.

Production of the new BMW X5 in particular made the limitations of the existing line in terms of capacity very clear. The aim was to increase the number of units produced. In order to achieve this, the existing line was modified accordingly and a new (supplementary) line for building the front and rear ends of the new X5 and X6 was installed by SAR USA.

Flexible Supplementary Line

Until now both the front and rear ends of the X5 and the X6 were built on one line. The planned increase in unit output for the new X5 meant that this was no longer possible. The existing lines were therefore modified accordingly so that, from now on, only the front and rear ends of the new X5 will be built on the existing line.

SAR USA erected a new line for building the front and rear ends of the new X6. However, it is also possible to build the new X5 on this line, should it become necessary. High speed and special vehicles can also be triggered independently of the main line.

The supplementary line is equipped with fewer robots and jigs than the main line, which means that each robot has to handle more tasks. To make this possible they are fitted with changing devices and change their tools - in some cases using up to four different tools - independently, according to the particular task required. The robots also boast a 7th axis.

Scope of SAR's Performance

The project was carried out in collaboration with the company EBZ Ravensburg, whose task comprised the design and implementation of the mechanical aspects. For this project SAR USA was responsible for designing the hardware and software, constructing the control cabinet, and installing and commissioning the software. As part of the project BMW USA body shop standards were programmed into11 PLCs (S7 416 3DP). SAR also modified the materials handling equipment for the lines.

As part of the remodelling of the bodyshell assembly lines for the new models, SAR USA, in collaboration with the company FFT EDAG, also equipped the new assembly lines for the outer side frame with 10 PLCs for the new X5 and X6.

This included implementation of the following technologies: Interbus, Ethernet, Pilz safety PLC and bus; SEW Movidrive and Movimot, inkjet printer for part marking, visualisation with WinCC on thin clients, camera systems for monitoring adhesives and reading off 3D bar codes.

This has resulted in highly flexible assembly lines for building the front and rear ends of the new BMW X5 and X6 models. The fact that assembly of the X5 is also possible on the supplementary line means that it is possible to compensate to a certain extent in the event that the main line fails.
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Chassis assembly rear end


Chassis assembly front end


Robots with tool changing devices

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