According to Bob Klem, GM’s director of Global Manufacturing Engineering, “Technology has allowed us to move from 2D drafting to 3D mechanical engineering design with manual validation, to 3D layout, process planning, and simulation that is fully synchronized and globally available on line.” This technology is now being used to bring lean processes to the construction of new or updated manufacturing facilities throughout GM, a technology that already has improved on site safety and quality, and reduced construction schedules and cost.
GM already uses 3D technology for plant layout and to optimize production processes before assembly lines are installed. However, using it to design the facility and eliminate the need for costly site rework was something else entirely, especially since the construction industry traditionally relies on 2D blueprints, on site rework, and frequent design reviews. With the help of Ghafari (www.ghafari.com), Ideal Group (www.weareideal.com), Dee Cramer (www.deecramer.com) and Alberici Group (www.alberici.com), GM was able to apply standard CAD design programs (Autodesk, Bentley Systems, and NavisWorks) to the design and development of its Lansing Delta Township plant, a 2.4-million ft2 facility that will produce the Saturn Outlook, Buick Enclave, and GMC Acadia crossovers. “This was a new technology for all of the contractors and suppliers,” says Ghafari’s Ki Hammer, whose company acted as the 3D model information integrator for the project. “Since this was the first project, we reviewed 10,000 shop drawings because we weren’t comfortable yet with a full digital review.” However, Hammer says all future 3D projects will dispense with the manual reviews. Meanwhile, Ideal Group’s Frank Venegas, Jr.. predicts the move to 3D “will replace blueprints with laptops, and cut out the nearly 15% cost creep that results from the need to make on site adjustments.” Alberici’s Paul Lemley adds: “It also will mean a 20% reduction in the project schedule, a near-complete elimination of field rework, and a return for every dollar spent on the model of $10 in field savings.”