Monday, January 21, 2019
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The BMW plant - visit

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Meanwhile, the production of the “classic” K series is close to the finale. Manufacturing of the K1200RS has just been stopped, and it seems that the LT and GT days are numbered. The customers are waiting for the S and R bikes which haven´t much in common with the former series. So, it´s time to have a last look at the K bike production at Berlin in late 2004.

Today, the R and K series are built at different basic production lines. The F650 types are built in Berlin since 2000, formerly it was built in Noale/Italy. The same plant is producing brake disks and longitudinal track control arms for the BMW car category. A total of 2,551 employees where working at the Berlin plant in late 2003, 1978 of them are producing motorcycles. 97% of the workers are highly qualified.



Using CNC controlled machining centres, engine housings, crankshafts, cylinder heads and several suspension components are produced at the machining shop. These parts are for the flat twin and straight four engine series only. The F650 engines are built at the Bombardier Rotax factory at Gunskirchen, Austria.


Nickeldispersion / Hand paint shop

At the nickel dispersion, the building on the left, the cylinder bearing are coated with nickel and siliconcarbide. This makes the cylinder bearings extraordinary wear-resistant.

The hand paint shop, the building on the right, is at present responsible only for patterns and decal lines. At the moment of our visit, this concerned only to the R1200C.


Engine assembly

At the engine assembly, the engine components are assembled to a complete unit. About 50 employees are building flat twins, the in-line four is built by 30 workers. Depending on the day´s total, a K1200 engine is built within 2-3 hours. Every 6 Minutes, a flat twin leaves the production. The twin is built within 90 Minutes.


Frame and suspension

In a combination of automated systems and skilled craftsmanship the “Suspension Technology Competence Centre” is building frames and suspension parts like the Telelever swing arm. The parts are cutted with laser technology for highest precision. By the way: the metal waste is recycled by 100 percent !


Basic assembly

At the assembly shop, the engine is attached to the suspension (the so-called “marriage”). Furthermore, additional parts as the exhaust or the cockpit iare mounted.

At production line one, where the twins are mounted, there are 90 workers assembling the R850 to 1200 types. Each bike is completed in 26 tasks. The K1200 bikes are built by 35 workers in 24 tasks at production line two. Another line is manufacturing the F650 single.

This commissioning of this building was in 2003..


Computer controlled paintshop

In December 2003, BMW established a computer controlled paintshop which was required for an increased output of bikes. Its maximum reaches 70,000 bikes per year. The machinery contains a heat recovery and an afterburner, the paint is water based to reduce emissions.


Final assembly / Packaging

BMW still adheres to the “C-type clamp concept”. Every workers gets the bike in a convinient height and position. The bike may be turned by 180 degrees.

Completed with rear wheel, muffler and fuel tank, the bike is ready for some tests. The engine is adjusted and the ABS checked, and the complete bike is tested on a dynamometer.

Thereafter, the fairing is mounted and a packaging line makes the bike ready for shipping. Until now, the bike has covered a distance of 2.5 mls  at the production line. It leaves the BMW Plant in a stable wooden crate or a returnable steel shipping frame.


Brake disks and suspension parts

Since 1979, Berlin is the only plant world-wide that produces brake disks of BMW cars. More than five millions of them are produced using computer controlled machines.

Plus, the longitudinal track control arms for the BMW 3 Series are solely built in Berlin.


Energy center

The plant is energized with heat and water by the energy center which used natural gas to feed its 16 MW boilers. In the future, the output will be increased by 10 MW.

The electricity is received by the BEWAG company, a local distributor.

In 1967, when BMW started to build the motorcycles in Berlin-Spandau, nearly every single part of the bikes was manufactured by BMW itself. Today, more than 400 external suppliers are delivering about 9000 parts “just in time” to the plant. But meanwhile, BMW is reversing this process.

Above: the new production building, established 2003.

The plant covers nearly 180.000 square meters. They were producing about 90,000 bikes in 2003. Visitors are welcome in Berlin and have the opportunity to watch the production from a crankshaft to the complete bike.

The BMW factory in Berlin Spandau is offering guided tours for visitor groups with 10 to 30 persons for free. An appointment is obligatory, please make an arrangement three to four month in advance.

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