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3D Scans Help Automotive Industry Evaluate Data Aimed at Increasing Production Flexibility

Industrial Photonics
Apr 2017
WÜRZBURG, Germany — Today’s car factories are leaning toward having one production line suitable to manufacture frequent model changes and smaller volumes. This requires increased flexibility in production, more robots and a higher level of digitization.

Andreas Nüchter, professor of Computer Science at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) of Wurzburg, is working to achieve this goal. Supporting "Virtual Technologies of Corporate Research" of Volkswagen AG with the digitization of production lines in preparation for a change of model, Nüchter and his team of computer scientists have sent a 3D scanner through the production line during live operation. They’ve used the data produced to generate virtual three-dimensional images of the production facility. Through this process, the team has simulated how the production line has to be converted to manufacture the new model.

3D scans for the automotive industry.
A section of an automotive production line and a simulated model as a 3D cloud of dots. The places where collisions would occur after a change of model are highlighted in red. Courtesy of Andreas Nüchter.

The 3D scanner allows the scientists to cover areas that are difficult to access, such as the tunnels where the vehicles' paintwork is dried.

"We were commissioned by Volkswagen to go through this process for the new launches of the models Tiguan and Crafter," said Nüchter. “It turned out that the ceilings of the production halls had to be converted to prevent collisions in the Crafter production.”

Evaluating the data after the scan is what is challenging according to Nüchter. His expertise in using mobile robots that scan their surroundings using 3D scanning systems helps overcome these challenges.

"Ultimately, it's no big difference whether we operate a scanner on a mobile robot or let it pass through an automotive assembly line, said Nüchter.

The goal of this project is automated data evaluation with help from 3D models of production lines.

GLOSSARY
scanning
The successive analysis or synthesizing of the light values or other similar characteristics of the components of a picture area, following a given method.
Andreas Nüchterthe Julius-Maximilians-UniversitätEuropeResearch & Technologyeducation3DscanningimagingindustrialTechnology News

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