Intelligent tools in assembly

© BMW Group
Intelligent tools improve quality in assembly. An inside view of the BMW Group’s factory in Regensburg.

A smart electric screwdriver assists production-line staff at BMW.


An intelligent electric screwdriver equipped with our algorithms can help staff achieve the correct execution. A prototype of the system is currently being tested at the BMW Group’s Regensburg factory, where, for each car on the production line, staff receive individual feedback on whether all screwing operations have been executed correctly. The software can analyze the direction, number, and correct movement of screws in real time.

This development is possible thanks to an inexpensive sensor fusion process in which the electric screwdriver’s rotational speed, acceleration, and directional information are combined and characterized together in real time, and this tracking information is reconciled with existing parameters. If the values coincide, the employee can be informed directly on-site via an LED display whether all screw connections have been properly executed. »It’s important to us that, wherever machines don’t or can’t take on high-precision tasks, we also give employees in digital production as much support as possible through digital assistance systems,« explains Jonathan Röske, project manager for innovation, digitalization, and industry 4.0 at the BMW Group. »This test phase serves to precisely analyze, together with our production employees, which figures must be used for quality assurance.«

In the future, it may also be possible to combine the tool with a positioning system. For instance, the specific screw hole or screw connection could be allocated on every workpiece. Furthermore, certain processes can be documented as needed and coordinated by digital assistants for timely optimizations or adjustments.