BMW continue to produce some of the most sporty, dynamic and advanced vehicles on the planet. With the revised 3 Series Sedan being showcased, I feel its appropriate to get some insight into where all the magic takes place.
Welcome everyone to BMW Plant Rosslyn (Text and imagery – courtesy of BMW South Africa)
The production process of our vehicles goes through 3 distinct shops. Each area goes through specific technology that is applied to ensure optimal quality of our vehicles prior to customer delivery.
The first stage begins in the Body-In-White shop whereby the car body metal sheets (including doors, bonnets and boot lids) are assembled. Once the front end, rear end, centre floor, middle side frame, and the outer side frame have been assembled to complete the shell of a vehicle, it then proceeds to the Body Wash Station. All dirt and oily residues that accumulated in the Body-In-White shop are then removed.
Vehicles then move onto the next stage in the Paint Shop. The first objective is to clean all dirt and oily residue, phosphate and E-coat the shell. This procedure is done by dipping the body front end first through a 16 tank process. The completion of the E-Coat is signified by a feint light grey shell, it is then taken to be dried and placed in a 200 degrees Celsius oven for 45 minutes.
The unit is then lowered to the off-line buffer for cooling. Once the unit has cooled it is taken to the sealer line where body seams are sealed and sound proofing material is added. It is hoisted up and robotically sprayed in a process called ‘under body Rubberising’.
The body then passes through to the Application Plant where primer is applied once all the seams are sealed. There are 4 types of prime; black, white, red and grey. The body then passes through a furnace where the primer dries on to the frame.
The last stage of the Paint Shop involves the application of either a metallic or solid base coat to the vehicle. It then goes through an infrared flash-off zone where the water in the paint evaporates. Clear coat that results in the final gloss and metallic shine is applied. The vehicle body is then moved to a storage area before being taken to the Assembly plant.
The Paint Shop can accommodate over 200 units per day, while 13 units per hour are spray-painted. The Paint Shop is fully air conditioned and absolutely pressurised and the air is filtered through five filtering stages and supplied at a temperature of between 24 and 27 Degrees Celsius, with a humidity controlled at between 60 and 65%.
Plant Rosslyn uses water-based paint which contains 80% less solvents than found in conventional paint recipes. The Assembly Plant, unlike the Body-in-White and the Paint Shop, is the area where manual labour reigns supreme and is attested by the presence of only 6 robots in the entire core, even though the Assembly Plant employs more associates than any other department in Plant Rosslyn. The Assembly line associates produce hundreds of personalised customer features on every car built. The cycle time for associates per station is 4 minutes.
Production Worldwide – Manufacturing Facilities
Agility and the economy are priority for the BMW Group’s worldwide production Network. The BMW Group operates on a global scale and is represented in more than 140 countries. Our research and innovation network is spread over a total of 28 locations in 13 countries on four continents. The production Network includes Mini and Rolls Royce which are both produced in Great Britain. BMW motorcycles are manufactured in Berlin.
At BMW we pride ourselves in our consistent standards of quality, safety, and processes at all locations guarantying worldwide premium products “made by BMW Group”. The careful use of resources is the guiding principle behind all our production planning and an integral part of the entire production process. As a corporation, we take responsibility for society wherever we are. We aim to be an active, fair partner for these regions and their inhabitants.
Our concept of “living” structures enables the BMW Group to react flexibly to customer demands and market requirements throughout the world. This includes flexible working time models, and work time accounts, as well as the capability to build additional numbers of certain models in other plants, if necessary.
BMW Group’s production network displays its special strengths whenever the corporation plans a new site or introduces new vehicle models. The intelligent linking of knowledge, exploring beyond the boundaries of a plant as well as the exceptional commitment, responsibility, and identification of BMW employees enable production to begin right on time – with our customary high quality products.
People behind the magic.
BMW South Africa invests up to 10% of the company’s total annual payroll on various training and development initiatives encompassing technical, managerial and specialist training as well as providing assistance for “higher education”.
The upgrade of manufacturing facilities at the Rosslyn Plant coupled with double shift work continue to provide work opportunities within the company as well as for its vast supplier network. Staff numbers increased by almost 1000 between 1998 and 2004, while over 36 000 downstream jobs have been created within BMW’s South African supplier network.
Following the decision to manufacture the BMW 3 Series at Plant Rosslyn, the intensity of the training provided both locally and abroad contributed to the acquisition of the necessary skills required to build a quality product. The 2002 JD Power and Associates’ award is testimony to that commitment.
Associates’ competency levels are closely scrutinized and developed via our Adult Basic Education (ABE) and Automotive Manufacturing Industry Certification (AMIC) programmes. The AMIC programme has over 1 470 active participants and has produced more than 500 Level 4 accreditations.
The demand for higher skills will in future increase as the manufacturing processes of our product become more complex. Training interventions will therefore continue to play a dominant role in meeting these demands.
BMW South Africa was established in 1975 when it acquired full shareholding in Praetor Monteerders, which, at the time, assembled BMW’s at its factory in Rosslyn, Pretoria. The factory was owned by the two Pretorius brothers and was established in 1968 as Praetor Monteerders Assembly.
They were assembling the Willies Jeep, Citroen and Colt mixed with the BMW models of the 3, 5, 7 and 8 Series. The mixture of these models did not augur well with the mother company BMW Germany consequently in 1974 Praetor Motors was bought out and BMW Group South Africa (Pty) (Ltd), which is the first BMW Plant outside Germany, was established. It started as a CKD (Completely Knocked Down) plant where a vehicle was supplied in a kit form and associates only assembled the cars for the local market.
Today Plant Rosslyn produces the 3 Series, four-door model range in both right and left-hand drives for local and overseas markets elevating its status to that of a world-class plant. Due to rapid expansion a neighbouring company known as Huguenot Porcelain was bought out to set up the Engine Plant and consensus was reached with the Pretoria City Council to purchase Frans du Toit Street which runs through the plant to become part of Plant Rosslyn.
In 1996 BMW’s R1 billion investment in the Rosslyn Plant paved the way for the upgrade of the production facility into one of the most modern in the world. This earned the local plant the right to be known as “BMW World Plant Rosslyn”.
In June 2002, BMW’s Plant Rosslyn was awarded the highly prestigious J.D. Power and Associates’ European Gold Plant Quality Award, ranking it first among European plants for quality and beating renowned car manufacturing plants throughout the globe. Plant Rosslyn has managed to achieve the best quality cars not only in South Africa but the world over. By actively involving associates and giving them a high level of training and responsibility, it helps in implementing measures for quick improvement and reacting flexibly to change initiatives and requirements.
To date, an average of 75 000 BMW 3 Series sedans are produced at BMW Plant Rosslyn per annum, of which just fewer than 90% are directly destined for export markets – going to countries such as the United States, Canada and Japan among others. Parts that amount to 80% of the local content are supplied by about 47 suppliers throughout the country and only 20% of the parts are imported. Over 36 000 jobs have been created within BMW’s South African supplier network by the production of the 3 series at Plant Rosslyn. These parts are delivered JIT (Just in Time) and others JIS (Just in Sequence). Popular amongst our suppliers is our neighbour (MA) Magneto Automotive that supplies us with galvanised steel and does all our metal pressings.
BMW Rosslyn is located in Pretoria, and is well worth a visit if in Gauteng.
General Plant Tour Information.
The tour through BMW’ South Africa’s original plant offers an exciting insight into all areas of automobile production. The experts guiding the tour naturally focus on the guests’ specific requests and questions.
In its concept and route, the BMW plant tour follows specific content-related criteria, giving guests access to all automobile production technologies at BMW Plant Rosslyn.
- The Body Shop
- The Paint Shop
- The Assembly Line
Max 20 (individual visitors are organised into groups of 20); This includes teachers and lecturers for school groups.
Max. 180 minutes
The plant tour is free of charge.
Lunch will be at your own cost, please ask for further details upon inquiry.
Monday to Friday
- Morning Session: 09h00 – 12h00
- Afternoon Sessions: 13h00 – 15h30
There are no guided tours of the plant on weekends.
To make a booking request, please contact the Tour Booking team on:
Tel. 012 522 4555