3D laser scanning: the perfect choice for fast-growing automotive industry

The automotive industry is firing on all cylinders – especially here in Tennessee. For the fourth year in a row, the state has been ranked No. 1 in auto industry strength.


Not only has Nissan been operating here for 30 years, but Tennessee is also now home to General Motors and Volkswagen’s operational plants, as well as Magneti Marelli and a number of original equipment manufacturers. In the last year, Tennessee hosted 44 automotive projects generating over $1 billion and thousands of jobs.


Earlier this month, GM announced plans to add 1,800 jobs at its Spring Hill assembly plant over the next three years so that it can begin building two new midsize vehicles.


In June, Nissan Motor Co. announced that it will add 900 jobs at its plant in Smyrna, just northeast of the GM plant. Also this month, Nissan announced plans to up production of its electric motors in its engine factory in Decherd, Tennessee. The plant is already staffing up to launch a third work shift to accommodate production.


As the automotive industry continues to grow, 3D laser scanning can play a major role in the redesign and construction of these plants.


This high definition scanning technology is the perfect tool to help automotive manufacturers retool their assembly lines, update their as-built drawings, and maximize efficiency of their production line layout.


How, exactly, can 3D laser scanning help?


#1: Reduced risk. Not only is laser scanning safer than traditional scanning methods because it allows crews to measure in places that would have previously been impossible, 3D laser scans also save money by eliminating the need for construction reworks and field retrofitting. Because of the quality of the scanned data, the number of change orders due to design flaws and unknowns is dramatically reduced.


#2: More precise. A laser scan takes multiple scans to collect millions of data points that are then registered together to generate a single three-dimensional “point cloud” that provides accurate distances and elevations between points on X, Y & Z coordinates. This accuracy provides the ability to perform better simulations and visualizations for training and monitoring purposes.


#3: Regulatory compliance. As governmental regulation and scrutiny increases, factory owners must ensure the as-built and as-maintained condition of production assets is in compliance. Laser scanning can be used to ensure plants are always safely within the regulatory guidelines.


#4: Huge cost savings. Laser scanning enables designers and engineers to revisit the original scan multiple times without having to physically return to the jobsite. Coordination between design and construction teams is greatly improved by providing visual documentation for discussion, and expensive construction reworks are greatly reduced.


Additionally, schedule compression of as much as 10% has been reported when 3D laser scanning has been deployed. This means big savings – especially on projects where outage time can cost as much as $1 million per day!



As the automotive industry continues to expand, 3D laser scanning technology can be an invaluable asset to the construction and redesign efforts of auto manufacturers to increase accuracy and efficiency while significantly saving both time and money.




David Headrick has over 20 years of experience in the surveying, engineering and legal industries, both as a project manager for LandAir Surveying and as a lawyer in private practice.  He has represented numerous land surveyors, designers, architects, contractors and other industry professionals throughout his career.  Today, David serves as an executive and project manager for LandAir Surveying Company, Inc., focused on developing and managing the company’s 3D Laser Scanning Division.  Contact him at (865) 599-0148 or