Executing a complex upgrade or retrofit project is challenging in many ways. The challenges inherent to completing key project objectives on-time and on-budget are compounded by a project that requires installation inside an active facility, with no allowable downtime. When design and execution have to flawlessly integrate for success, a precise understanding of the site is essential. Laser-scanning produces a 3D representation of the environment, providing distance measurements accurate within 1mm. This unparalleled insight gives engineers and manufacturers the detailed data to ensure a design will both operate and install as intended

Manufacturing many different brand names of tissue paper, the Georgia-Pacific paper mill in Muskogee, Oklahoma is the source for more than 30% of US tissue and toilet paper supply. With the immense need for both high and low-pressure steam to run the plant, Muskogee utilizes an on-site coal-fired power plant for steam generation. This plant also uses excess steam pressure to generate electricity by way of a steam turbine. As fuel prices shifted over the last few years, the plant manager of the Muskogee steam plant recognized a need for a new boiler, one that could make use of natural gas to take advantage of the rapidly increasing economic benefits of falling natural gas prices. To meet this goal he enlisted an outside engineering firm to design and install the new boiler.

Acensium, as leading retrofit engineers and laser scanning specialists, are a main contributor to the PRB coal users group at the Electric Power Conference. While presenting their 3D laser-scanning as-built process for retrofit projects, the Muskogee plant manager realized that with the complexity of the existing facility space, and the added complexity of the new boiler, a precise understanding of the site environment would be critical to successful design and installation.

After Muskogee enlisted Acensium to provide laser scanning for the planning phase, the team was introduced to the project. The project scope called for the boiler to be installed inside the existing plant that was under operation. Massive pipes, 20-inches in diameter with 2-inch thick walls, would extend from the large footprint boiler, carrying steam to many connections. This complexity, and the significant size and weight of all components, left a small margin for error and offered many opportunities for ‘clashes’ between the new boiler and existing equipment.

When Acensium began their work, a 3D model of the new boiler design existed but the design had to be superimposed on a 2D drawing of the plant layout. Without the ability to ‘place’ the model of the new equipment inside a real virtual environment to look for conflicts and have real spatial awareness, installation was likely to run into significant delays or cost overruns due to conflicts between existing and new structures and equipment. Downtime is the arch-enemy of power plants and manufacturers. Even a few minutes of downtime can cause significant costs and incur an unrecoverable loss of profit.

Acensium’s experience with laser scanning and engineering consulting allowed the creation of a 3D virtual representation that recreated the full environment with laser-precise measurements of distance and clearance. The scans allow modeling of both structural and equipment interferences that could obstruct pipe runs for the new boiler. This 3D environment can even be used beyond the design phase for modeling environmental realities during installation and setup of the upgraded equipment.

One key challenge in this particular project was the difficult process of aligning the 3D scan environment Acensium’s laser-scans created to the survey data taken by the equipment engineers; effectively, this is correlating a 3D environment to a 2D Map. Once these disparate data sources were coordinated, the work of the design team could be leveraged within the digital environment to ensure a seamless installation. Scheduling was also a significant challenge. With a hard fixed deadline, Acensium had to deliver the initial batch of 250,000 renderings from laser scans in less than 2 weeks to meet the Muskogee installation deadline. As the Muskogee team learned, it is never too late to employ as-built laser-scanning for retrofit projects, even with looming deadlines, especially because the data reduces long-term delays during installation.

Three months after the pre-installation scan, Acensium was contacted again. As the project moved into the next phase, Muskogee wanted Acensium to provide detailed scans and insights into the continuing project status to aid in analysis. In addition, after installation has been completed, Acensium scanning services will be used to take final scans of the finished project. These final scans will be used to make sure an accurate representation of the ‘current state’ exists upon completion for future projects and plant planning.

  • Laser scanning to create a 3D environment allows you to understand risks to safety, test new equipment alignment and model clash detection between existing equipment and planned new equipment. [PRM]
  • Creating detailed installation process-maps and modeling new equipment design in 3D reduces delays, downtime and cost overruns. [Pjct 3D Scanning]
  • When the project culminates, a final pass of laser scanning provides an ‘as-is state’ snapshot so there are accurate records of the operating environment going forward. [Validate]

If a plant is not using a laser-scanned as-built process for greenfield and brownfield facility design, retrofit engineering and installation it is losing time and money. It doesn’t matter how good an engineer or design software is, without a laser-precise virtual environment to design new equipment within there will be unexpected issues. Accurately designing and installing new equipment into a complex existing facility, without downtime, is a challenge even with laser scans. Without a detailed 3D environment unforeseen conflicts and design issues will cause delays, downtime and increased costs.

Acensium provides accurate laser-scanned as-built modeling for engineering retrofit projects and industrial augmented reality system implementations. With decades of engineering experience, Acensium couples professional utility-engineering consulting-knowledge with cutting-edge laser scanning, 3D modeling and augmented reality technology for industry-leading results.