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BMW Announces Construction of a New 67,000 Square-foot Training Center at its Factory in South Carolina

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【Summary】BMW announced plans for a new 67,000 square foot training facility that will train future employees for high tech roles at the automaker's Spartanburg, South Carolina factory. The facility is BMW’s largest global plant by volume and builds the X-Series lineup of SUVs for export around the world.

FutureCar Staff    Feb 22, 2021 4:50 PM PT
BMW Announces Construction of a New 67,000 Square-foot Training Center at its Factory in South Carolina
The 4.5 millionth BMW built in the U.S. rolls off the assembly line at Plant Spartanburg in South Carolina on Sept 8, 2019.

German automaker BMW has a strong manufacturing presence in the U.S. with its sprawling Spartanburg, South Carolina assembly factory. The facility is BMW's largest global plant by volume and builds the X-Series lineup of SUVs right here in the U.S. for export around the world.

But as BMW focuses on building more highly advanced vehicles, including electric and self-driving vehicles, the automaker needs a highly skilled workforce, so the automaker is building a new training center. 

On Monday, BMW announced plans for a new 67,000 square foot training facility that will train future employees for high tech roles at BMW's Spartanburg factory. Officials of BMW Manufacturing, along with South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt, broke ground today on a new $20 million training center on the BMW campus.  

The investment is a continuation of BMW's 2017 commitment to invest $200 million over five years into workforce training. 

When the new facility is completed in the summer of 2022, it will feature multiple classrooms for both professional development and technical training, an outdoor amphitheater, and a unique concept of outdoor meeting and workspace that includes wireless capabilities. 

BMW's Spartanburg assembly plant provides a massive boost to the local economy and the German automaker is a major employer in the Spartanburg region. 1 out of every 10 jobs in the region is related to autos and parts.

In 2019, BMW was named as the largest exporter by value of new vehicles built in the U.S., its fifth consecutive year. In 2020, the Spartanburg plant has a record year and exported 218,820 vehicles with a value of more than $8.9 billion. BMW's U.S. exports are more than that of U.S. automakers General Motors and Ford Motor Co.

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

BMW currently builds all of its X-Series SUV models in Spartanburg. These models include the X3, X4, X5, X6 and X7 SUVs along with two plug-in hybrid electric X models. The plant also built the BMW Z4 Roadster from 2002 to 2008.

 "The most important investment for BMW is our people. Our associates are the key to BMW's success," said Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing. "The rapid pace of digitalization, electrification, artificial intelligence, and autonomous driving is transforming the automotive industry. Advancing the skills of our workforce is a priority for BMW. This training center will offer a learning environment that promotes creativity, fosters innovation, and improves technical training skill." 

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An aerial view of the massive BMW plant in Spartanburg County, South Carolina.

The new training center will be built across from BMW's existing Campus Training Center (CTC). The idea is to consolidate recruiting, hiring, training and innovation all in one location, the automaker said. BMW is aiming to create a welcoming atmosphere for the new training facility.

 "Our recruiting and training concept is very stimulating and interesting," said Christine Petrasch, vice president of Human Resources for BMW Manufacturing. "We want to create a ‘college campus' atmosphere around the new building with pathways and meeting places. As newly hired associates walk out of the CTC, they see the new training center in front of them and behind that, they see the BMW plant where they will work. It will be very inspiring."

The training center will also be home to BMW's apprenticeship program named "BMW Scholars." 

"The technical training areas will have a flexible classroom design to adapt to multiple learning environments," said Paul Sinanian, manager for Talent Management and Training. "Training robots identical to those inside the BMW plant will be placed on moveable pallets so they can be relocated depending on the learning situation. Classrooms will be equipped with the utilities and IT networking needed for teaching robotics, electrical, mechanical, engine and automotive training."

The new training center will replace the current BMW Training and Development Center (TDC) which has been used for both technical and professional training since 1993. The TDC started as temporary office space for the first BMW associates. The following year, the first production associates used the building to assemble BMW 3 Series vehicles for training. 

"We applaud BMW for their continued investment in our state's biggest asset – our workforce," said South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt. "Since 1992, BMW has shown their steadfast commitment to not only South Carolina, but to our people as well. This new training center will ensure BMW technicians are highly trained and skilled in the latest automotive technologies and are prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow."

As the maker of some of the world's most advanced vehicles, BMW has also come up with unique training solutions in the past to assist technicians at its dealerships to aid in servicing BMW vehicles. 

In 2019, BMW unveiled an all-new Technical Information System (TIS 2.0), which is combined with a pair of augmented reality glasses that service technicians wear for advanced technical support.

It was developed by BMW with feedback from its technicians in the field. TIS 2.0 puts all of the technical data for every BMW and MINI model at every technician's fingertips.

With the remote assistance from a BMW expert, the technician working on the vehicle can collaboratively work through issues to resolve them in a faster and more efficient manner. The system is enhanced with Realwear HMT-1 Smart Glasses and Ubimax Augmented Reality Software.

Technicians working a BMW model can put on a pair of Smart Glasses and connect with engineers and other technical experts at BMW of North America directly via a hands-free video link. 

DCThe HMT-1 Smart Glasses include a high-resolution micro display that fits just below a wearer's line of sight and views like a 7 inch tablet.

While wearing the glasses, BMW's service technicians can project step-by-step technical bulletins and schematic drawings onto the display, as well as take screenshots and enlarge images and diagrams for better visibility when servicing a vehicle. The technician can also open and view documents using voice commands while working on the car.

BMW says the wearable technology can reduce maintenance and service times by up to 75%.

BMW's Spartanburg factory currently produces about 1,500 vehicles each day, exporting more than two-thirds of the models built to 125 global markets. 

With this massive capacity, the factory requires a highly trained workforce to run smoothly. BMW's new training facility will help to ensure that employees in Spartanburg have the knowledge they need to build some of the world's most advanced vehicles.

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