DETROIT — A nondescript room in the basement of General Motors' sprawling Warren Tech Center campus is a nerve center in the expanding effort to keep the automaker's factories humming.
It's an operating base of Reality Capture, a little-known team under GM's Manufacturing Engineering Integration group that continually maps and surveys the automaker's plants and other buildings in North America and harvests vast amounts of data used to fine-tune manufacturing.
Physical surveying isn't unique to GM, but the group's growth and expanding capabilities, including a new drone program, are turning it into a unique tool for the company. The team's work could play a key role as GM retools for its next-generation trucks and plans the complex changeovers to launch 20 all-electric or fuel cell vehicles through 2023.
"We are trying to provide as much information to the people making the decision so that we don't hit any [unexpected] costs," Randy Seidel, who leads the group, told Automotive News. "It's going to help whether it's the new combustion engine or the new EV, because we're going to have everything that anybody needs to effectively plan out what it's going to cost, where it's going to go and how quickly they can get it installed."