General Motors knows that knowing how competing products work is key to further improvements in its own offerings and processes. That is why its Competitive Benchmarking team exists. The team does its job in a high tech way using red, white and blue scanning lights to mathematically capture precise 3D images of vehicle structures and components of competing vehicles.
The team strategically selects vehicles that are all-new or feature industry-first systems and technologies and scans them accordingly – a process that is repeated for around three dozen times a year. Once the scans are completed, they become reverse-engineered computer models that will be compared to GM designs.
The results of the benchmarking process help drive cost and mass reductions as well as quality improvements in GM vehicles -- Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC. The Competitive Benchmarking team is also tasked with dismantling and scanning GM vehicles in order to validate parts, quality check manufacturing processes and troubleshoot part irregularities.
“3D scanning is a time-efficient and cost-effective way of keeping up with rapid advancements being made all over the industry,” said Larry Pecar, senior supervisor at GM Competitive Benchmarking. He remarked that the technology enables them to gain a better understanding of the reasons for other carmakers’ recalls so that GM could avoid making the same mistakes.
For over a decade, GM has been using 3D scanning technology, which projects a red, white or blue light pattern onto the vehicle surface while an advanced camera or sensor captures its contours and records where the object is in space as well as its orientation. Blue and white light are best in capturing complete vehicle scans, including full exterior surfaces.
Blue light scanners are also capable of mapping vehicle interiors as well locations of parts under the hood and under the body. White light scanning is now used less frequently since blue light scanning is more capable. Red light scanning is best for capturing details of components and parts already removed from vehicles. [source: General Motors]