Using a 3D laser scanner to create an accurate representation of an industrial facility is not a new idea. With the rapid advancement of both processing and storage hardware, coupled with decreasing costs, this sort of real-world data can be leveraged by almost any facility for 3D environment scanning, new construction or retrofit engineering. 3D Laser Scanning is still not a ‘one-off’ process though, you must take into account the nature of both the scanner and the output to ensure you get the full picture, in the best detail.

A laser scanner in one position records one angle, or wedge, of the 3D space that makes up your facility. The scanner must record from multiple angles to ‘see’ the whole environment. To visualize this, think about putting together an orange that has been sliced so that it reforms a sphere from individual wedges. Each slice is similar to what a scanner might take for one angle. To get the whole picture the scanner will need to be rotated to record different wedges and, depending on a particular environment’s layout, likely repositioned to record areas obscured by structures or equipment.

When the scanning is complete, these disparate slices (called point-clouds) have to be put back together digitally to form a 3D environment. This used to be an arduous process, increasing the costs in time and labor to use laser scanning as a tool. New software tools, like ReCap, make ‘stitching’ scans together to form a full environment much more intuitive. This process is called registration, where you create one file from many, making sure each scan is oriented correctly. This creates one environment from many scans at high detail. Good software and well-planned scans make this 3D environment scanning process 90% automated with manual oversight for error correction.

Now that the individual point-clouds have been successfully combined into one large point cloud, also known as being ‘fully-registered’, it can be used in a variety of ways to save money and time while reducing risk. As-built modeling of planned upgrades, live sensor-driven analysis of a power plant efficiency, virtual reality and augmented reality training for new employees and much more. 3D environment scanning allows facilities to record coordinates for key equipment, systems or locations and plot specific points, such as existing mounting hardware, bolt-holes or other project requirements. With a virtual copy of your environment, you can not only plan for the future in 3D, leveraging interconnected sensor networks and software tools, you can see real-time plant data while planning your next project.

Acensium brings decades of combined engineering and consulting experience to the laser scanning field. With large power facilities’ operations depending on the accuracy and competency of their work, the Acensium team has proven time and again that they are the leading engineering consulting firm in the laser-scanning and augmented reality space. Acensium delivers detailed modeling and risk management data, allowing plant decision makers to understand not only the problem but various solutions, benefits and capital costs.