With the drive towards digitization in automotive production, major international car manufacturers are turning to digital inspection technologies to gain multiple advantages in understanding the latest layout of a building and increase transparency across operations.

In an era where transparency is increasingly desired by stakeholders, studying scanned 2D drawings is rarely enough to understand what the current internal spatial layout of a building looks like.

While the external parameters of a building are unlikely to have changed drastically since the completion of construction, the interiors are a different matter. Adaptions and machinery are often not factored into plans. This means that when engineers arrive at the site, they do not always know what awaits them.

An up-to-date digital representation of a facility can make a dramatic difference in improving efficiencies, enhancing accessibility of information, and strengthening the ability to collaborate with teams that may be working on the other side of the world.

“Having a digital twin of your factory aids with transparency because you’re standing inside the building and you see what’s really going on,” says Stefan Sander, the global head of Enterprise Professional Services at NavVis, a provider of mobile mapping systems and digital factory solutions.

“We’re focusing on getting reliable information about a building. Even some of the digital models we have now, the 2D floor plans or 3D models, the information isn’t necessarily up to date,” he adds

Increasing accessibility for stakeholders at automotive facilities

The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies to enable remote operations. Furthermore, there is a desire among stakeholders to understand more about what is happening within operations at automotive production facilities and ensure that the information they are being told on the ground matches up with reality.

Previously, getting detailed building scans may have only been accessible by a select few. But now, technology is changing what is possible. The right technology now enables stakeholders to gain greater accessibility to detailed building information and the operations environment.

“It’s important that you also provide instant access to the data to all stakeholders. In the past, that has also been a core challenge with traditional scans being handed over on the hard disk and only accessed by only a small group of people,” Sander says.

Having up-to-date 3D scans of a building also enables faster, more accurate decision-making based on clear data and visuals. Furthermore, a platform such as NavVis IVION means this information can be accessed on a standard web browser on a mobile device without requiring the installation of any special software.

“You actually see what’s going on in the factory without the need to individually collect information, and without the need to travel there,” adds Sander.

Creating a digital factory for automotive manufacturing

The creation of a digital factory – or a digital representation – is at the heart of the NavVis suite of solutions. A digital representation of a factory helps with the planning, design, and construction of a production asset and all related infrastructure. The technology can be used to support testing, simulating, and commissioning a new building, or to make alterations to an existing production site.

“With this information, you can take faster and less error-prone decisions in all types of use cases. You have the reality in front of you with a single fingertip, on your laptop or mobile phone,” adds Sander.

Using NavVis technology to create a detailed spatial representation of a factory can deliver between 10% and 30% savings in costs for late changes through reduced planning errors. Furthermore, remote site visits can reduce costs for industrial engineers by between 20% and 40%.

Crucially, the spatial data and visualizations captured from the 360-degree panoramic cameras deployed by NavVis can be easily accessed through a basic web browser. Effectively, the NavVis platform enables a type of Google StreetView for the interiors of buildings. The ease in accessibility of data and visual environment offers far greater transparency for stakeholders.

“3D laser scanning has been done for years,” adds Sander. “But the revolution that we are seeing now is that you can really do it at scale, comprehensively and repetitively. So, you get to a stage where you always have that data and it’s always up to date.”

Digital factory technology has been embraced by automotive manufacturers all over the world. From the NavVis suite of technologies, the in-depth data and panoramic images provide automotive engineers with complete transparency before and during maintenance or upgrade works.

To learn more about NavVis technologies and how they can help your business save costs while increasing transparency with stakeholders, download the whitepaper.