May 24, 2006

3D Laser Scanning at BE 2006

A centerpiece of Bentley’s annual BE Conference, underway this week in Charlotte, NC, is the BE Awards of Excellence, a showcase of customers’ civil, plant, building and geospatial projects. From this year’s entries, we dug out cases where 3D laser scanning was key to the project’s success.

CH2M HILL – COSMIX (Colorado Springs Metro Interstate Expansion)

CH2M HILL is leading a Colorado DOT project to widen I-25 from four to six lanes along a 12-mile corridor. (CH2M HILL is managing partner of the Rockrimmon Constructors team, a joint venture with SEMA Construction.) The project includes construction of 20 bridges, reconfiguration of two major urban interstate exchanges, ramp improvements, and related work on connecting arteries. At a total program cost of $150 million, COSMIX is billed as the largest design-build project in Colorado Springs history and the second-largest highway design-build project in the state.

CH2M HILL reports that laser scanning-based documentation of existing bridges was incorporated into 3D visualizations, giving the design-build team a jump start on designing the necessary bridge modifications. For this purpose, Bentley CloudWorx was used to extract data from laser-scan point clouds into 3D MicroStation drawings.

Hojuara As-Built 3D Ltda. – Change of Gas and Oil Survey Process

This project involves pipe and structural modifications made to offshore platforms off the coast of Brazil in order to meet new government specifications regarding total platform production. Early on, Hojuara decided to use laser scanning and 3D modeling for this revamp and retrofit work to reduce construction rework, risk and uncertainty. Because most modifications must be done during scheduled platform shutdowns, Hojuara notes, new fabricated components need to fit right-first-time to avoid delays in production startup. Technology from Bentley and others was employed to support use of 3D in all phases of the project – design, fabrication and construction. By far the greatest impact of Bentley products was to enable project review in 3D during fabrication and the beginning of construction. 3D visualization and manipulation tools from Bentley allowed construction personnel to simulate various ways of carrying out construction.

During the design phase, designers used both the point cloud with CloudWorx and the 3D models in DGN format to help define routes and dimensions, and to retrieve other information need to develop the design. After fabrication, the final design plus all fabrication tolerances found were sent back to the point cloud and 3D model for final checks of clash detection and dimension adjustments when needed, as well as construction definition procedures.This workflow proved powerful, says Hojuara, because most last-minute adjustments that would otherwise be made during construction can now be anticipated and planned for beforehand.

imp GmbH – 3D Documentation of a High-Voltage Substation

imp GmbH, an engineering company working for public utilities, municipalities, telecommunication enterprises and the building industry, has been using 3D laser scanning technology for four years to document and plan overhead power transmission lines and substations. The company reports that laser scanning has let it minimize survey field hours and concentrate resources on office work. Also, the information content rises exponentially compared with traditional survey: in addition to the traditional method of documentation (top view and cross-sections), the company now develops 3D models from laser scan data.

In this project at a power substation in Essen, Germany, the company developed a 3D component library from an existing 2D cell library, combined with 3D laser scan data. The resulting model contains not only technical data (detected components and schematic information) but also true-color textured objects. The resulting MicroStation 3D model was used to generate a VRML-world, 3D PDF and animation files for presentation.


Petrofac Facilities Management – CNS Subsea Tieback and Gas Compression Module (CNS ST & GCM)

This project consists of a new module, brownfield modifications and a subsea tieback to the host platform in the Central North Sea. In this £50M project (excluding subsea elements), Petrofac Brownfield used Bentley AutoPLANT’s 3D capabilities coupled with 3D laser scanning to capture as-built plant information. Petrofac reports this solution saved the project from being potentially two to three months late in October 2005 (due to lack of survey/as-built information), keeping it on-plan in December 2005, when the first ISOs were issued. It also resulted in a 10% savings in onshore piping man-hours.

According to Petrofac Brownfield, use of AutoPLANT linked with capture of as-built plant information has revolutionized the way it executes piping and other projects in Petrofac Facilities Management. Not only are there fewer steps in the new process, but crucially, the amount of offshore survey time has been reduced dramatically.

Sinclair Knight Merz – Sydney Water Bondi Sewage Treatment Plant Reliability Improvement and Modernization Program (Bondi STP RIAMP)

The Bondi Sewage Treatment Plant, which services some 500,000 people in Sydney, Australia, consists of both surface and underground facilities. An upgrade project named the Bondi Sewerage Treatment Plant Reliability Improvement and Modernization Program (Bondi STP RIAMP) started in October 2003 and is planned for completion by 2007. The project is being carried out by an alliance between Sydney Water (client), Sinclair Knight Merz and CH2M HILL (design teams), and United Group Infrastructure (construction). This phase of the project is expected to cost approximately $75 million, part of which is due to significant new underground excavation works.

Existing underground excavations, cut from sandstone, include chambers and tunnels in large rock excavations for settlement tanks, a major pump chamber, an ocean outfall tunnel, and numerous access tunnels and smaller chambers. Prior to detail design, existing tunnels and chambers were surveyed with 3D laser scanning, and the scan data was used to create 3D models of the tunnel surfaces, plant and infrastructure. The 3D models were then used to design the new plant installation alongside the existing plant, allowing a phased changeover without compromising capacity.

Using CloudWorx for MicroStation, key plant areas were modeled, while less important areas were retained as point clouds for reference only. According to Sinclair Knight Merz, use of Bentley Navigator and CloudWorx provided a rich visual experience for the design team both in the design environment and in review sessions. Often used to portray plant configuration challenges or improvement opportunities, these tools were invaluable in communicating design intent to the alliance team members and allowing a range of design opportunities to be examined. This was highlighted by the use of 3D visualization during design reviews, and the use of AVIs to communicate data to all project stakeholders.

SNAM Rete Gas (for GNL Italia) – Re-Gas Plant Digitization

GNL Italia S.p.A., owned by the Italian gas distribution company SNAM Rete Gas, manages Italy’s sole plant for LNG reception and regasification. Ease of data retrieval is key to efficient plant management. To this end, the company launched a pilot project with Bentley to computerize plant management and maintenance processes in order to provide faster access to data, structure and standardize plant data, eliminate paper documents, normalize schematic designs, and allow access to external systems’ data. To support this effort, GNL Italia created digital 3D plant models through a combination of digitizing plant planning and maintenance documents, and executing 3D laser scans of existing facilities and then using Leica CloudWorx to convert the scan data into 3D MicroStation models.

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