BMW Manufacturing in Spartanburg, South Carolina, has officially opened its new logistics centre, revealing a more efficient, sustainable, and digital operation.

The Logistics Center for X models, called LCX, is 1m square feet in size and cost $100m.

“This new facility allows us to consolidate two warehouses and their material into one building, making our processes faster, leaner, and more efficient,” said . Robert Engelhorn, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing.

“The new centre incorporates elements of the BMW iFactory strategy, which defines the future of automotive manufacturing for the group production network. This building can be expanded, if needed, to accommodate future models.”

The centre is divided by a fence, separating the new Container Freight Station from the Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ).

Parts and goods, both duty-paid and duty-unpaid, enter the warehouse on one side to be separated. The duty-paid material is cross-docked and travels by truck to Consolidated Services operations at the Inland Port in Greer.

Only duty-unpaid, BMW Manufacturing-owned parts are allowed to enter the FTZ and are either stored on racks temporarily in the warehouse or go directly to the assembly plant to be used in production. Yard trucks, called hostlers, carry these parts across two newly constructed, private bridges over Freeman Farm Road and Interstate 85 to give quick access to the plant.

“BMW has worked closely with US Customs and Border Protection and appreciates their support in creating this one of a kind warehouse,” said Oliver Bilstein, VP of logistics and production control.

Autonomous logistics strategy

During the LCX opening, the automaker demmonstrated using autonomous hostlers as part of the logistics process. A video showed a driverless hostler and trailer leaving the LCX building, traveling across both private bridges, and delivering parts to a building on the plant site. When BMW launches its autonomous logistics program in the future, it will eventually use 5G wireless technology on the Spartanburg site, enabling real time connectivity between machinery and equipment.

To complement the autonomous hostler, the LCX building is equipped with smart dock doors. The truck communicates with the door once it has arrived, and the door opens automatically.

The new structure is solar ready for the installation of a rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) system in the future.

Forklifts inside the building will be powered by lithium-ion batteries.

BMW Manufacturing is the largest group, producing 1,500 vehicles a day and a record 433,810 in 2021. The plant exports 60% of its vehicles to 120 markets.