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3D Scanning and Survey – Visualising your plant As Is, not As Built

DPS’ dimensional control surveying with 3D laser scanning and point cloud modeling enables clients to link all client asset data into a full 3D interactive as-built digital twin, an essential tool for both pre and post commissioning

Laser scan surveys are conducted for the purpose of performing retro-fits and upgrades both onshore and offshore assets and facilities.

CAD models generated by laser scan surveys allow engineers and designers to make necessary changes in a safe environment, with the knowledge that new components will fit to the desired location upon initial installation. This, linked to both a full coupled legacy data base and onsite Augmented Reality tablets, provide improved accuracy and safety for all inspection and modifications whilst at work.

Using 3D Laser Scanning in Plant Design

Advances in technology have dramatically improved quality and lowered costs for industrial automation engineering companies that design and build onshore and offshore facilities.

The latest advances in 3D laser scanning can enhance engineering accuracy, shorten project schedules, and improve coordination between engineering project teams and manufacturers.

How a 3D Laser Scanner Works

A 3D scanner projects a laser onto a surface, which is then reflected back to the scanner. The scanner will analyze and compare the differences in reflected light frequency and the phase shift of the reflected wavelength to determine the object’s position in 3D space.

The 3D scanner contains an internal mirror that rotates vertically in a full circle. In addition, the scanner will rotate horizontally in a full circle. This combination of a vertically- rotating mirror and horizontally rotating scanner produces a 3D point cloud in a sphere emanating from the scanner.

The purpose of a point cloud is to collect data-point information from all sides of an object. To do this, the scanner collects data information from multiple positions around that object. During the registration process, the software will “meld” these scans together, creating one larger point cloud comprised of multiple scans.

Ratam Platform prior to scanning

After completing the initial scan, the 3D scanner performs a second 360-degree rotation. During this event, the scanner will take color photographs of the previously scanned area, from the same view point. Each scan will include over 85 color photos, which can be used by both the engineering team and the manufacturer to relay visual information to team members who are not on site, and to facilitate and coordinate design discussions. These photos can then be overlaid on the point cloud model to create an accurate 3D image as you would see it on site

Scan Resolution

The quality (or resolution) of a scan determines the spacing between points, which determines the level of detail. As the scanning technician increases the scanning resolution on the instrument, more data points will be collected for an increased point-cloud density.

Generally, increased point density (resolution) improves the quality of the point cloud. Increased point density also adds to laser scanning time, as the laser moves at a slower pace to collect the increased number of data points. In addition, the final point cloud for a higher resolution will have substantially more points, thus increasing the overall file size.

Ratam Platform 3D Point Cloud model

Converting to a full model

Once the point cloud model has been verified and the scans registered together, it can be used for building an “As Is” CAD model in 3D.

Ratam Platform final 3D model

With this model, merging all elements and equipment that are required by the client, it is now possible to link this to your Enterprise Asset Management data base or CMMS to then view all legacy data related to any piece of equipment in the model. This knowledge allows inspection and maintenance teams to verify the history and issues, if any, relating to specific plant items. This process will be discussed in detail in a future article but an example of the detail available is shown below.

Scanning and AR - A view of Now

With DPS’s Augmented Reality modelling system, the plant models can now come to you on site, overlaid with the real world situation.

Running on a tablet or goggles, this AR version allows you to capture clashes with new design modifications, see your planned new build on site prior to commissioning and share models on site with your remote team and ensuring improved communication between head office and the site office, onshore and offshore

In summary, 3D scanning of your plant is a very cost effective way of creating an “As Is” asset model as opposed to the original “As Built” version, capturing the development, modifications and history of your plant. With advances in AI, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing and Image Processing, capturing the development of your plant, the maintenance history, process changes and modifications from the original design and linking it to an updated scanned 3D model is now a reality.

This, along with Augmented Reality tools and Predictive Analytics, assists operators in optimising maintenance, inspection and on site health and safety, ultimately providing significant cost savings to your daily operation. An accurate survey and scan is the backbone of this workflow and is an extremely cost effective way of capturing your asset as it is today and planning for tomorrow.

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