BMW’s high-precision, fully automated measuring technology creates 3D data model of new vehicles

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BMW’s fully automated, optical measuring cell at the company’s pilot plant in Munich, Germany, can create 3D data models of new vehicles and is said to be the first of its kind to be implemented at an OEM factory.

Free-moving robot arms use sensors to create a three-dimensional image of the entire vehicle and generate a 3D data model, with an accuracy of less than 100µm. This enables barely visible deviations to be identified at an early stage.

The optical measuring cell is deployed at the interface between development and series production. The next generation of the BMW 5 Series sedan will be the first to benefit from this new technology.

A robot arm on rails is mounted on each longitudinal axis of the optical measuring cell and moves freely as it maps the vehicle in complete space. Occupying a relatively small area, this set-up allows two small, flexible robots to be used in parallel in an optimum working range. Compared with previous processes, in which robots use a single sensor to record one side of the vehicle after the other, measurements now only take around half the time and are completed within just a few days.

The robots are fitted with two sensors that record reference points and then capture individual surface areas of approximately 80 x 80cm each. These are combined to form a scan of the entire vehicle. Analysis of the data quickly reveals any deviations, allowing technical integration specialists in the production division to take appropriate action early on.

Three-dimensional vehicle scanning can be fully automated and performed at off-peak hours or at night, so the measuring cell can be utilized to full capacity. With results delivered promptly, update cycles are shorter or no longer needed. The measurement data and analysis findings are shared online within the production network and also made available to the plant responsible for series production to assist with their preparations.

August 4, 2016

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John joined UKi Media & Events in 2012 and has worked across a range of B2B titles within the company's automotive, marine and entertainment divisions. Currently editor of Automotive Testing Technology International, Crash Test Technology International and Electric & Hybrid Marine Technology International, John co-ordinates the day-the-day operations of each magazine, from commissioning and writing to editing and signing-off, as well managing web content. Aside from the magazines, John also serves as co-chairman of the annual Electric & Hybrid Marine Awards and can be found sniffing out stories throughout the halls of several of UKI's industry-leading expo events.

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