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Engineering students feeling revved up after BMW visit in Berlin

Visiting the BMW Motorrad factory in Berlin has given students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) an invaluable insight into the world-famous German company’s motorcycle brand.

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Organised as part of the latest epic #DMUglobal trip, 40 students from the School of Engineering and Sustainable Development learned about the engineering, mechanical production, assembly line and logistics behind building up to 800 top-quality motorcycles a day.

The two-hour tour covered the brand’s roots from when it produced its first motorcycle with a flat-twin boxer engine in 1923, to now boasting 24 models across six ranges with a variety of engine configurations.

Students learned about the difference between a volume assembly line where multiple parts are produced in a 220 metre line and a lean assembly line used for the more complicated engines spanning just 20 metres.

They saw the brand’s high-tech automated sample testing for engine parts, as well as how finished motorcycles are manually tested in terms of acceleration, braking, electronic functions and the overall BMW experience.

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Students also heard about the brand’s unique way of first selling its motorcycles before going on to produce them to customer specifications with hundreds of customisations to choose from.

Hayley Durrick, a first-year Mechanical Engineering student, said: “It’s been such a brilliant insight into the industry. I really enjoyed seeing how cooling fluids are used on a massive scale, in comparison to how we use them at DMU.

“I wouldn’t have been able to afford to come to Berlin without the #DMUglobal bursary, so I’m really grateful that I get to explore this great city. In fact, in 10 days I’m off to Geneva on another engineering trip through #DMUglobal, so I’m feeling extremely lucky.”

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Another first-year Mechanical Engineering student, Jonathan Hackett, said: “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a production line like this and it’s been a really inspiring experience. I especially enjoyed learning how all the robots operated and seeing how efficient the assembly is.

“Overall, it’s been a fascinating insight into Industry 4.0, which refers to the world’s fourth industrial revolution where efficiency helps to maximise output.”

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Final-year Physics student Mitch Hummings found the tour resonated with the Solid Mechanics module he took this year.

“The tour was really good. I was blown away by the sheer volume of measurements and checks they do during the production process, as well as the fact that they test within half a micrometer of accuracy.”

Pakistani Irlam Zahara, who’s is studying Mechanical Engineering MSc thanks to a DMU scholarship, said: “It was a very interesting experience, especially learning that BMW first sell their motorcycles and then produce to client specification. That must be quite a unique way of working.

“I’ve loved all the course-related trips I’ve been on so far and I’m hoping I can go to New York with #DMUglobal next January. DMU is a great place to study and the tutors are so supportive.”

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Emily Morgan, a first-year Electrical and Electronic Engineering student, said: “It was amazing! You just don’t get that kind of experience of assembly lines.

“I always imagined factories to be boring and stressful places, but the people working at BMW looked like they loved it. It’s definitely changed my preconceptions about it all.”

The group also visited the German Museum of Technology and will go to Autostadt (Automobile City) in Wolfsburg, a visitor attraction boasting a Volkswagen factory, an automobile museum and modern architecture.

More than 800 DMU students and staff on nearly 35 courses are in Berlin this week with the award-winning #DMUglobal international experience programme, to take part in academic trips and opportunities unavailable to tourists.

Posted on Wednesday 14th June 2017

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