Most plants and facilities are comfortable with existing 2D plant design drawings and architectural maps. These legacy documents worked when the plant was built, why would they not work now? The realities of O&M demands mean modifications and retrofits have occurred – and if handled in the best way, came with accompanying 2D drawings. In addition, as a plant ages, so does the staff – new blood is coming on board that needs to be on-boarded quickly and efficiently. Do they have the experience to understand the legacy 2D drawings as well as the modifications & additions? These questions and more are being asked every day by plant managers and executives. All of the questions come down to one key point – is there a clear representation of the plant, today, as-built, when we need it, that key staff can understand immediately?

Often the answer to that key question is no. Even if drawings exist for equipment retrofits and system updates, getting a clear understanding of a plant through decades of 2D drawings is a skill possessed by few. When a new retrofit project or safety evaluation needs to be undertaken, a disparate group of executives, managers, engineers and many others have to be able to see and understand key data points about plant equipment, operations, workflows and clearances. To make decisions everyone needs to be on the same page at the same time.

3D visualization and modeling is a way that everyone, from a brand new executive to the 30-year engineer, can immediately see real-life representations of the plant environment. Unlike a survey that creates a 2D layout, 3D scans are fast. 3D scanning equipment collects between 50,000 and 1,000,000 data points a second, delivering laser-precision and creating a ‘point cloud’ that makes up one chink of a larger 3D Model. 3D models are the best way to understand the plant environment in a way that lets you plan a project with considerations for clash detection, feasibility and fabrication requirements.

Often scaffolding and rigging need to be built as part of a major retrofit. How do you visualize and engineer size, placement and cost in a complex industrial environment? How do you ensure minimum downtime for critical plant equipment? 3D modeling lets you visualize & engineer chains and hoists for current retrofit projects, choosing placements that benefit this project as well as future maintenance and retrofits. When your plant was literally built around the original equipment, how do you get materials and equipment in and out of a congested industrial environment without costly downtime? True-to-life, laser-accurate 3D building scans provide the framework for project planning to reduce costs and diminish downtime risk.

3D Building Scanning is more than just a planning tool. Understanding project progression as a retrofit is underway is another benefit of 3D modeling and laser scans. After a project has culminated, capturing the final as-built state with a laser scan means that you have an accurate representation of the current situation going forward. 3D scanning is most effective if executed before, during and after a project. Starting with project feasibility studies, moving through project design and planning phases, through project execution and completion, 3D building scanning provides insights unachievable with 2D drawings.

Beyond projects, having 3D building scans of your facility opens the door for more efficiency improvements in on-boarding, safety, automation and decision-making. 3D laser scans of your building are the environment for Virtual Reality training and on-boarding for new staff. They make up the basis for Augmented Reality systems to increase efficiency and data insights for O&M. Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality both can be leveraged as a means to provide comprehensive training on plant safety before a new hire ever steps foot on the plant floor. Wireless, embedded sensor-networks that make up the emerging industrial Internet of Things market are more valuable when data is streamed live through an Augmented reality system that delivers critical information to key personnel when they need it.

Acensium uses virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and incorporates avatars into computer models to analyze risk and evaluate retrofit designs in 3D. There is nothing as powerful or as accurate as experiencing or observing how the human form will interact with elements of a project. Using the power of laser scanning to develop a highly accurate 3D model of the existing environment creates a background into which new equipment will be designed. This process can happen in just days, whereas the ‘old school’ method of documenting “as-built” conditions may have taken weeks or months with surveying equipment and tape measures. Once the background is in place, designing in 3D within that space puts all the physical constraints clearly in plain sight.

Acensium brings decades of material handling engineering and project risk management experience coupled with cutting-edge laser scanning and 3D analysis tools to deliver engineering services to both industrial and commercial clients. You can read more about Acensium Project Risk Management on the project risk management page.

Don’t forget to check out part two and part three of the Reality Capture series!