Case ID: 692083     Solution ID: 36840     Words: 1339 Price $ 45

BMW The 7 Series Project A Case Solution


The BMW 7-arrangement dispatch is pointed via Carl-Peter Forster to have the base number of dissensions. The model and also the cockpit configuration group will be adjusted for this reason to settle the greater part of the issues in pilot creation, rather than the vast volume generation at a later stage. To accomplish this end, the cockpit configuration has been distinguished as a range which needs change. Given the present conditions of BMW, it is suggested that the organization go for completely gathered cockpits, which will be provided by the organization's most put stock in merchant. It is normal that the present issue of the higher number of protests will decay once the cockpit, an extremely critical component, is in the hands of a master merchant.

With these issues in mind, the cockpit design team started thinking of ways to improve on the prototyping phase. The engineering team felt that the way BMW did their prototyping was actually masking many design issues they would find later. If they could uncover these issues early (like in the prototyping phase), they could save a lot of time and effort later as well as improve on overall quality. So between January 1991 and June 1991, the cockpit design team formulated a proposal to change the way the 7-series would be prototyped. A meeting was then held to discuss the proposal, and decide if BMW wanted to make that change. This was the decision that Carl-Peter Forster ultimately had to make.

The cockpit design team's proposal was to change the way that the prototyping was done. First, it required the designers to complete the specifications for all of the parts. Unlike previous models where the prototype specialists would make up for incomplete specifications, the new way of prototyping would not allow that. Next, it required tooling to be designed and built to actually fabricate the parts. Gone were the days when a skilled craftsman would make individual parts by hand using general-purpose tools. This had several benefits - the prototype parts actually looked and felt like the final production parts. They even went together (or didn't if there was a design flaw) just like the production parts. Another benefit was that the tooling was designed earlier reducing the problem of building tooling in time for production. And it also allowed quality and manufacturing to get involved earlier, making for a better product. The down side of doing this was that in greatly increased the cost as well as increased the time span for the prototyping phase.

Whether or not he realized it, Carl-Peter Forster had also changed the way this project was going to function, and almost without realizing why, he and the rest of management accepted the proposal.

The 7-series project was not operating in a horizontal fashion; the project was too time-phased. Each piece in time was worked separately - the designers did not interface with the prototype specials; who did not interface with manufacturing; who did not interface with production. With the new approach, the project took on a true project management aspect - it required close coordination among the teams and also across the different time-phased aspects of the project (i.e., manufacturing and quality were involved earlier; designers had more input in the prototype and manufacturing phases, etc.). Along with the horizontal coordination changes, the new approach also required concurrent engineering - the new tooling was designed concurrent with the parts design (at least as close to the same time as possible). Then the parts were built using the new tooling. Testing of the parts during the prototyping phase was actually testing both the parts and the tooling.

Just like a lot of companies who embrace project management and then cannot implement it soon enough, BMW decided to implement the new prototyping approach across the board. The original proposal was developed by the cockpit team, and only presented as a cockpit change. But Carl-Peter Forster and the rest of management recognized the benefits and how it fit with their strategic objectives, and decided to implement it on all interior parts of the vehicle.

Problems Encountered

The BMW 7-Series Project started off the way all of BMW's projects started. They were several years into a 6-year development cycle and looking forward to constant redesigns, late tooling, manufacturing problems, and never-ending quality issues. But the luxury market was getting fiercer, and the 7-series project had all indications of being the one that made or broke BMW's tenuous hold on market share. Something needed to be done.

Specifications - One of the previous problems encountered was that the designers did not complete the specifications on the drawings for the individual parts. They knew that the parts were being built by hand; and that the design would probably change; therefore, they did not take the time to complete the drawings. As a result, the prototype specialists had to complete the drawings as they went. Besides taking additional effort that wasn't planned, the specialists took liberties in changing the design where they felt appropriate; usually without notifying the designers. By the time the vehicle went to production, the design had changed enough that the designers didn't recognize it as the same parts. This was especially troublesome when there was a problem with the design, and the designers were called in, but the design had been changed somewhere along the way and the designers didn't know why.

Tooling - BMW took pride in the prototype craftsmen, who would build all the prototype parts by hand with general-purpose tools. This allowed a lot of flexibility at the prototype stage, but it also meant that the production tooling wasn't built until further down the road. The prototype parts were redesigned several times, but always built by hand until the manufacturing stage. At that time, the tooling was designed to build the parts. The biggest problem was time - this usually didn't leave enough time to properly design and build the tooling. It was a race to see if the tooling would be available soon enough to not delay the planned launch of the new model. The other problem was that BMW didn't know if the tooling could mass-produce the parts as designed until it was too late to change the design.

Quality - BMW has been treating quality like most other companies; Quality means inspection and making sure you are building everything correctly during production. But like most other companies, BMW has realized that Quality can't be inspected in at the tail end; it must be designed in from the very beginning. Quality needs to ensure that the design specifications are complete and accurate; they need to make sure the process to transmit the information to the prototype specialists is sufficient; they need to make sure that the requirements for the tooling is correct and that the tooling is built per the requirements. During both the prototype phase and manufacturing phase, they need to ensure that the workers follow the same standards that production will follow. This will not only provide a better product; but will also validate the manufacturing procedures.

Design For Manufacture - BMW has been designing for perfection, but not for manufacturing. And while perfection may sound like the best objective to strive for, it isn't always producible. BMW needs to be able to consistently make their product with little or no defects; and they need to make it the same every time, 60,000 times a year.

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