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Charleston Business

BMW Investing More Than $200 Million to Add New Press Shop at SC Plant

Mar 02, 2022 05:32PM ● By David Dykes

(Photo provided)

BMW announced March 2, 2022, it will invest more than $200 million to build a 219,000-square-foot press shop at its South Carolina plant.

The investment includes more than 200 new jobs, BMW officials said.

The announcement was made by BMW Manufacturing President and CEO Robert Engelhorn at the South Carolina Automotive Summit in Greenville.

The new press shop, which will start production in the summer of 2024, will take raw coils of steel, cut them into blanks, and stamp sheet metal parts for future BMW models. Those components include hang-on parts such as the vehicle’s four doors, fenders, exterior body sides and lift gate.

“The BMW Group is known worldwide for the outstanding quality produced by its press shops. We are excited to add this technology to Plant Spartanburg,” Engelhorn said. “This investment reinforces BMW’s commitment in the United States and South Carolina. We continue to play a major role in the region’s economic strength as well as workforce development and job training.”

“BMW’s presence in South Carolina for nearly three decades has driven the dramatic growth of our automotive industry and paved the way to our state’s global reputation as an automotive powerhouse,” said Gov. Henry McMaster.

BMW officials said a state-of-the-art press shop requires manufacturing jobs with advanced-level training. Those jobs include tool and die technicians, electrical and mechanical maintenance for automated machinery and specialized line operators.

More than 45 Plant Spartanburg associates are training at BMW Group press shops in Leipzig, Germany, and Swindon, England, the officials said. Those associates also train with partners from the Schuler Group, a globally recognized company that manufactures automated servo press lines for all BMW Group plants.

The press shop marks the beginning of the automotive production process. Large steel coils arrive at the press shop, where they are unloaded from trucks using 55-ton overhead cranes. The steel coils are then fed into the Blanking Line, where the steel is cut into individual “blanks” (rectangular cutoffs or special shapes). The blanks are then ready to be fed into the Press Line.

Plant Spartanburg’s Press Line will consist of five press (stamping) stations. The line will be equipped with servo technology, which BMW says enables it to significantly increase the output performance of the presses. Using an overhead crane, each station is loaded with the correct press tool (die). The blank is fed into the first press station and transferred from one station to the next by a crossbar feeder robot for additional forming and trimming operations.

The press line is capable of running up to 18 strokes per minute. After the parts are stamped, they go to quality control for inspection and then are stacked into racks ready for delivery to the body shop production line.

“Having a press shop onsite is part of BMW’s localization strategy where we produce our major parts at the location where we need them,” Engelhorn said. “This ensures the highest quality, efficiency, and consistency in body shop parts for our customers.”

While Schuler will manufacture the automated press line, all tooling for Plant Spartanburg’s press shop will come from BMW tool shops in Eisenach, Munich, and Dingolfing, company officials said.

Since 1992, the BMW Group has invested nearly $12 billion in its South Carolina operations. BMW Manufacturing is the largest BMW Group plant in the world, producing more than 1,500 vehicles a day and 433,810 vehicles in 2021, a record.

The plant exports nearly 60 percent of its vehicles to about 120 global markets.

For eight consecutive years, it has been the largest exporter by value in the United States.

The portfolio includes five top-selling BMW X models, four Motorsport X models, and two plug-in hybrid electric vehicle X models. The all-new BMW XM, the first electrified high-performance hybrid model in the BMW M portfolio, will begin production in late 2022.

The factory has an annual production capacity of up to 450,000 vehicles and employs more than 11,000 people.