From the progressive assembly line to lean manufacturing principles, the automotive industry has always led the way in manufacturing technology. As the industry faces ever shorter design-to-production times, automotive manufacturers and suppliers have embraced industrial metrology and 3D measurement as enablers of productivity.
Recent trends include the move from off-line quality inspection to near-line or in-line measurement techniques, enabling higher sampling rates and faster inspection times. The most advanced automotive OEMs are working to automate inspection and integrate metrology data with product lifecycle management systems, statistical process control and supply chain management software. This actionable information helps inform decision making and find new ways to reduce ramp up times, minimise part rejection and improve the performance of cars, vans, trucks and other vehicles.
Today, off-line and near-the-line high-accuracy dimensional inspection in the automotive sheet metal and car-body manufacturing process remains mostly the preserve of fix-installed stationary coordinate measuring machines (CMMs). Now portable measurement systems like 3D laser trackers and articulated measuring arms are that bringing accuracy and precision to every area of vehicle production plants.
The next step in this ongoing evolution will be the integration of measurement and automation.
Automated in-line white light scanning systems are already enabling entire car bodies to be measured in minutes, and virtual assembly techniques minimise rework and scrap in the closures department. This is the future of automotive manufacturing.