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GM uses high tech tools for benchmarking

Light scanners and 3D imagery help keep manufacturer competitive

Published: December 26, 2013, 6:00 PM

GM Competitive Benchmarking

As in this photo featuring Mike Marvin from GM's Competitive Benchmarking team, the manufacturer is using a blue light scanner to capture 3D images of the competition to help keep them on top of advancing technologies -- "surgically dissecting" them in fact.

GM says it takes on a high-tech search to find out what's good and bad about the competition about three dozen times a year globally, by strategically selected all-new competitor vehicles, or those with industry-first systems and technologies, and then using light scanners to mathematically capture precise 3D images of the vehicles' structures and components. The completed scans are then used as reverse-engineering computer models for comparison to GM designs.

They also dismantle and scan GM vehicles for quality control and troubleshooting.

“3-D scanning is a time-efficient and cost-effective way of keeping up with rapid advancements being made all over the industry,” said Larry Pecar, senior supervisor, GM Competitive Benchmarking. “The technology also allows us to gain a better understanding of the reasons for other automakers’ recalls so that we are better able to avoid making the same mistakes."

The light scanning technology has been used by GM for more than a decade. It projects a red, white or blue light pattern on to the vehicle surface while an advanced sensor captures and records the object's orientation.

Blue and white light work best for complete vehicle scans, while light blue is also good for vehicle interiors and under-hood and under-body components. Red light is best for component details and removed parts. GM uses the same scanning for their own vehicle design and development, manipulating data from scans of clay models into uploadable digtal programs and milling machines to create full-scale models.

“By comparing the scan of a finished product to the original math model we can identify the source of fit and finish problems. In some cases even squeaks and rattles can be avoided or quickly addressed,” Pecar said. “There is no place for a quality issue to hide.”