Automotive Students Tour BMW Plant
Date: April 29, 2015
Writer: Greg Thomas, Automotive Collision Repair program chair
Students from the Automotive Collision Repair and Automotive Technology programs toured the BMW assembly plant on April 16. Located in Greer, S.C., the plant is visible from Interstate 85. Currently producing the “X” series sport activity line of vehicles, the plant employs approximately 8,000 people. The trip was planned to offer Athens Technical College automotive students a close-up view of what it takes to assemble vehicles with the precision and accuracy they will be required to emulate as repair technicians once in industry. Twenty-five students, plus faculty, attended the tour.
The assembly plant tour allowed the opportunity to watch the vehicles being assembled from a bare painted shell to the final line inspection and preparation for transport. As the tour progressed through much of the plant, the guided group received a narrated explanation, via headsets, to describe the sequencing logistics, high-tech robotic machinery, and operating procedures of the many highly-skilled associates in the organization. Watching from just a few feet away, the students witnessed the material handling, installation techniques, and quality control required to put together world-class automobiles at a reported rate of over 1,200 vehicles per day. The real beauty of this experience, for Athens Tech automotive students, is that most of the processes required to assemble a new vehicle are repeated in the repair industry every day. Understanding how the manufacturer does the processes will make them better technicians in their field of study. Everyone in attendance was amazed at the complexity and discipline required to produce the vehicles.
As an added bonus, BMW had a museum showcasing many of the company’s milestone achievements. The museum contained numerous historically significant products produced by BMW as well as their modern offerings. The students were able to see the evolution of the cars and motorcycles the company produced over the past 90 years as well as get a close-up view of BMW’s products used in different genres of motorsports. Many of the group had never seen or heard of the micro car “Isetta” line. They really are tiny! These “micro cars” were said to be capable of over 50 mpg in 1955! Of course, the racing technology really caught the eye of many students. The modern offerings from BMW were on display as well, highlighting the quality, technology, and safety the company is known for today.
The students were all very grateful for the opportunity. This experience definitely enhanced their understanding of the automotive industry.
Photo caption: Automotive Technology and Automotive Collision Repair students recently toured the BMW plant, including the company museum, in Greer, S.C..