Geo Week News

August 27, 2008

Scanning Pipes at Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant

Scanning Pipes at Wolf Creek - Image 1

Exact Metrology, Inc. principal Dean Solberg reports that his company used its new Leica HDS6000 scanner in the second half of March on a piping project at Wolf Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Burlington, Kan. Solberg says the 800 hour project involved scanning piping in 15 rooms with four operators. Deliverables were provided six weeks after capture to Exact’s client, R. Brooks Associates Inc.

The scanning project required approximately 80 setups according to Exact Scanning Technician Greg Hoetling. After the pipe insulation was removed, the scanning team followed specific pipe runs from room to room, some of which were hot, i.e. radioactive to determine the elevations of various pipe segments. Deliverables were JPEG images annotated with elevation data produced directly from Cyclone. The initial plan called for production of Microstation piping deliverables but the project team determined that the annotated JPEGS were adequate to conduct the follow-on engineering. The elevation data was needed for an analysis of potential sites for gas bubble accumulation in the lines; the exercise was to seek out potential dips and traps in the lines. Hoetling says considerable care was required in making the point picks to get the correct centerline heights.

Jobsite precautions included wrapping the scanner cables and not setting the scanner down on horizontal surfaces in the hot areas to limit machine contamination. The work can be thermally hot because of the protective suits and gloves required for operation in radioactive areas. Included in the project budget was some time for ALARA training. (ALARA, a commonly used acronym in the nuclear industry, stands for “as low as reasonably achievable”, referring to radioactive exposure.)

Solberg says the addition of the HDS6000 scanner to the company’s inventory was intentional to meet the company’s goal to enter the nuclear arena. “We’ve had minor brushes with the nuclear industry before but nothing to this extent,” he says. “That was our plan. We’ve been investing more and more into that particular industry.”

He adds that the company has been traditionally focused on shorter range scanning and that the acquisition of Cincinnati-based Berding 3D Scanning last September has allowed Exact to add long-range scanning capabilities. Solberg says Exact “parlayed their experience on both the short-range and the long-range scanning and thought it would be a huge benefit to own [a long-range unit]rather than having to … rent one.”

Exact plans to apply the HDS6000 in paper mills, automotive plants and foundries. “It really rounds out our capabilities,” Solberg says. “We’ve got the short range where we have the ability to literally scan the fingerprints off your fingers and now we get into the long-range stuff.” The company also owns a Basis Software Inc. Surphaser scanner and recently helped place another unit at Boeing.

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