BMW and its Chinese partner, Brilliance Automotive, announced today that their production sites in China are now benefiting from 5G connectivity. The three plants located in China now have 100% coverage in the lightning-fast network and with the new connectivity standard live, larger than ever quantities of data will be streamed faster. This way, these BMW plants will now have systems that can exchange data in real time and streamline the production process.

For quite some time now, 5G has been considered by many people in the industry as the first necessary step to be achieved on our way to fully autonomous driving cars. That’s because these self-driving models will need to exchange incredibly vast amounts of data with a data center, in real time, to make sure everyone on board is safe. The launch of such networks has plenty of other uses too though, like in production facilities, where efficiency, quality and flexibility in production can be further enhanced.

With this development, BBA becomes the first automobile manufacturer to use 5G technology in automotive development and production. Johann Wieland, president of the joint venture between the BMW Group and its partner Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd. said: “5G is a ground-breaking technology with the potential to revolutionize industrial production. BBA is taking a leading role in testing the use of 5G and developing new innovations and procedures to improve industrial productivity.”

This didn’t happen over night though. BBA has been working on implementing 5G in its plants since October 2018, when a pilot was set off. Once construction of the 21 mobile phone masts and 35 5G base stations was completed in April 2019, BBA already had full 5G network coverage at its car plants in Tiexi and Dadong, as well as at its powertrain plant. After only three months of technical optimisations, the 5G data rate increased from an initial 600 megabytes per second to one gigabit per second. BMW is also working on setting up 5G networks at its plants in Germany at the moment. The long-term aim is to establish 5G networks at all BMW Group plant locations worldwide.