Automotive Lightweighting, Quality Control Hubs and the Role of 3D Sensors

In his article Auto Lightweighting Gains Traction with Quality Control, Rick Sloop, Director of International Technical Services, InfinityQS International, Inc. discusses automotive lightweighting –– the emerging practice of using lighter components and advanced materials in the automotive manufacturing process, in order to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) fuel efficiency requirements set to take effect in 2025.

Sloop’s article sheds light on the unique set of challenges lightweighting poses to automotive quality control. Most importantly, the introduction of new, lighter part materials with different tolerances and behavioural properties means automotive manufacturers need greater visibility into the supply chain to ensure parts meet strict assembly tolerances.

Automotive Lightweighting and The New Quality Control

The Solution: Quality Control Hubs

Many automotive manufacturers have turned to enterprise quality control hubs as a way of overcoming the challenges of automotive lightweighting. These hubs run on Statistical Process Control (SPC) engines that allow for the introduction of more statistically valid methodologies of part inspection on the manufacturing floor.

Furthermore, as cloud-based platforms, quality control hubs provide centralized access to real-time manufacturing intelligence culled from different locations of the supply chain. This gives technicians increased insight into and control over the entire quality control process. Real-time data and analysis acquired from different locations means tighter verification that new lightweight parts, sourced from a wide network of suppliers, are fully compliant before arriving at the plant for assembly.

3D Smart Sensors: Supplying Critical Datastreams To Quality Control Hubs

Quality control hubs require a steady diet of measurement data to feed their statistical process control, trending and analysis. 3D smart sensors supply these critical datastreams; delivering high-density measurement data on all variety of car part shapes and sizes, at high speed and with micron accuracy. This means 3D smart sensors are the key technology for ensuring automotive supply chains consistently meet strict manufacturing requirements.

3D Smart Sensors:  Ideal For Seamless Browser-Based Integration

The importance of 3D smart sensors to automotive quality control goes beyond simple 3D data acquisition. They also provide browser-based sensor configuration and the ability to deliver data via ethernet using various industrial communication protocols (e.g. TCP, EtherNet/IP, Modbus, ASCII, digital output), which allows them to interface directly with PCs, robots and PLCs on the factory floor.

This connectivity makes 3D smart sensors uniquely suited for easy integration into cloud-based quality control hubs –– forming a more “interconnected” 3D inspection system that is able to handle the scanning and verification of many indvidual parts sourced from an array of suppliers.

The Benefits for Automotive Quality Control

Armed with in-depth, easy-access 3D datastreaming consolidated from every location of the supply chain, automotive manufacturers are able to verify that new lighter weight materials are compliant while minimizing downtime, maximizing the fuel efficiency and overall product quality of their vehicles, reducing environmental impact and building customer satisfaction in the long run.

3D Sensors Help Build More Environmentally-Friendly Automobiles

Does your organization use 3D Smart Sensors in combination with quality control hubs? How have you found these technologies interact? Share your comments and stories with us!