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Alltech Engineering Corp

BLK3D Tackles Complex Automotive Plant Installations: Case Study with Alltech Engineering Corp

By Christopher Dollard


The BLK3D, simply put, excels in measuring plant environments. The traditional, manual measurement process for job site or as-built conditions taken by hand can take a lot of time. But the BLK3D not only replaces cameras, tape measures and laser distance meters in a documentation workflow. It captures all the dimensions you need simply by taking a photo of what you need to measure. Instead of walking around with manual measurement tools and taking weeks to document a plant, you can snap photos in a day or two and get to work. 

For plant environments, the BLK3D helps users quickly take measurements of complex machinery, equipment, parts, spaces, and tools. For example, say you need to measure a factory floor for installing equipment. Typically, you might use tape measures or other manual measurement tools, and then you’d bring those measurements back to the office. But with a BLK3D, you can take photos of your site conditions that contain the dimensions you need just by pushing a button. Then you can share those images, and all the measurements included in them, to anyone on your team straight from the factory floor. 

No need for manual measurements, no need for return visits for inaccurate or missed measurements, and your team can start drafting right away. Not a beat gets missed and every project stakeholder stays on the same page.  

Sounds good, right? Well, let’s see the BLK3D in action. 

BLK3D Helps Design Precise Structural Support Steel for Automotive Plants 

Alltech, headquartered in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, is an industrial contractor that operates throughout North America. With over 20,000 projects completed, they are one of the lead contractors hired for structural support steel design and installations in automotive plants. Support steel needs to be incredibly precise in the automotive industry—it may just be a “supporting role,” but it holds up all the machinery that builds our cars. One small error in measurements and installation could result in many costly consequences down the line. 

Rich Tschida, Vice President of Alltech, oversees installation projects from start to finish and is responsible for site visits to take measurements. “We do a lot of installation of automation and robotic equipment in the automotive industry, and the first part of our responsibilities as contractors is to measure existing site conditions,” said Tschida. Depending on the physical size and complexity of the project, they may need a lot of time to manually measure the space. And such complicated environments can make it easy to miss an important or hard-to-get measurement. 

Alltech Decides on BLK3D to Measure Complex Spaces 

Tschida and Ryan Will, Project Manager at Alltech, decided to investigate more advanced technology that would speed up that process and ensure that no measurements or data were missed during site visits. Will recommended purchasing the Leica BLK3D, a portable 3D imager that uses photogrammetry to measure within pictures, and it has sped up their workflows and helped to satisfy their clients throughout the process. 

“We’ve used the BLK3D between two or three people, and it’s helped us considerably,” said Tschida.

We used to use laser measurements, optical measurements, and even tape measures. That could take us a day and a half to two days, which only leaves us with maybe half a day to sit down with the client. With the BLK3D, we can now spend half a day measuring and much more time working directly with our clients.

The BLK3D gives Alltech quicker access to all measurement data they need, and it has also eliminated unexpected and costly return trips to the site. “The best part of the BLK3D is the ability to grab measurements back at the office. In the past, if we missed a measurement, that meant another flight back to the job site,” said Will. “Now we’re able to find all the measurements we need right in the pictures. And we spend less time measuring, which means more time doing site design, and more time for new projects.” 

Alltech Gains Efficiency, Precision, and Profit with BLK3D 

Alltech Facility workerAlltech’s job sites present significant challenges due to the complexity of the work, like working with and around complicated machinery and infrastructure. “We’d always measure the main components of the space and design around them. We’re installing load-bearing structural steel, and the robotics sitting on top of that steel must be just right,” Tschida said.  

For example, Alltech was hired to install structural steel in a Ford automotive plant in Chicago, which took six months of planning for a three- to four-week installation. The BLK3D enabled Tschida to ensure that installations were accurate and completed on schedule. “Now we can measure everything—like, for example, sprinkler lines that are easy to miss or would be tough to measure completely in a day or two. This tool has the depth and scale to do that,” said Tschida.  

Another recent project in Michigan took over a year, but the BLK3D was up to the challenge. “Precision, for us, is key. We needed the tech because we had a use for it. And for the BLK3D’s price, it’s what we needed to start advancing our technology,” Tschida said. Advancing their technology allows Alltech to keep costs within budget and take on more clients and projects. “We take a lot of pride in getting it right. Any tool that can do that and maximize our profit is a good deal.”