FAQ

LASER SCANNING for INDUSTRIAL PLANT DESIGNS

  • Q: How accurate are laser scans?

    Nothing is Perfectly Precise! The fact is however that laser scanning IS the most accurate technique in the world to measure anything. That alone is the reason why Control Point Design has chosen to offer laser scanning to our customers. And we believe that we are the best in the world at utilizing this technology. But with that said many customers, and rightfully so, are still concerned about the accuracy that their project should expect.

    Control Point Design offers two considerations for any prospective customer with these concerns which should help put their mind at ease:

    Historical Reliability: After many highly successful projects and years of testing we ask you to simply look to the success rate of prefabrications of piping, steel, etc. fitting into place using laser scan data. Our extensive experience proves with every project that the laser scan data is 100% reliable. Control Point Design has developed a work process over the years to minimize any errors. That process or technique is what it is all about. Our techniques include powerful tools that are within the software that we also use. While others may not be as reliable, it is our proven techniques that set us apart.

    Repeatability: Once again, over time and many successful projects the Control Point Design technique has proven that laser scanning offers a repeatable and consistent pattern of accurate data. Our techniques always deliver more than acceptable error levels. In other words, acceptable, repeatable patterns of minimal deviations.

    And, this is why you CAN rely on Control Point Design to get the job done right the first time!

  • Q: Is the laser scan the same as a 3D model?

    The laser scan or “point cloud” is certainly a 3D model but it is not quite the same as a 3D CAD model. We normally consider a CAD model to be made up of 3D solid objects or 3D faces. A point cloud consists of a large array of points in 3D space.

  • Q: Can the lasers see thru objects such as walls or below ground?

    No. The scanner cannot see thru objects. This is why multiple scanner locations viewing the same scene from different angles are needed.

  • Q: How are the scans positioned onto the plant coordinate system?

    Unless the scans lie perfectly onto the plant coordinate system they are practically useless to the designers and engineers. The standard use of survey monuments is not the answer. If the area being scanned was not constructed perfectly according to the monuments, the scans will be skewed relative to the scene.

    Control Point Design Inc. chooses to use major features such as main columns to establish a grid. For example, in a refinery unit we would normally consider the main pipe rack columns. We then accurately measure and mark the column centerlines or base plate mid points in four to six places and across the length of the unit. Often fire proofing materials need to be chipped off so that exact measurements can be made on the steel column or base plate. We then survey these reference points, download them to CAD and align them as closely as possible to the theoretical coordinates and elevations. The resulting data then becomes the basis for the scanning work.

  • Q: What software do I need to view laser scans?

    There is a variety of options for viewing laser scans. Leica has a product called “TruView” which is a free plug-in to Windows Internet Explorer. Once installed, our customers can view and navigate their scans in photo-realistic quality. Other software such as AutoDesk’s “Navisworks Freedom” (also free) is a good viewer which can also integrate 3D CAD models with laser scans to provide very powerful imagery.

  • Q: What software do I need to bring a laser scan into CAD?

    Once again, there are a variety of options available. Since we use the Leica software suite I recommend Leica’s “CloudWorx Pro”. This runs on top of CAD and is available for most of the popular CAD software packages (AutoCAD, Microstation, PDMS……and more). The price point for this is approximately $3500.

  • Q: How difficult is it to learn this software?

    Not hard at all. The software is easy and intuitive. There are only a handful of toolbars. Usually a couple of hours of interaction is all that is needed for most CAD operator’s to become experts.

  • Q: In our office we use 2D drafting. Is it still possible to use laser scans in our work process?

    Not hard at all. The software is easy and intuitive. There are only a handful of toolbars. Usually a couple of hours of interaction is all that is needed for most CAD operator’s to become experts.

  • Q: What are the economic benefits of employing laser scans into an industrial plant design project?

    There are two main benefits:

    SAVE MONEY. Leveraging 3D CAD modeling with laser scanning gives engineering and design teams increased prefabrication opportunities and affords greater accuracy to all elements of the design deliverables.

    SAVES TIME. Laser scanning drastically decreases the amount of time that designers would otherwise spend in the field attempting to gather needed dimensions conventionally. Since laser scanning can usually be done from the ground, floor elevations, or from fixed platforms, the need for climbing is minimized thereby improving safety.

    REDUCE RISK. Laser Scans combined with 3D CAD models produce life like images of the proposed design (CAD model) and existing features (laser scans). These images allow all the project stakeholders to view what the project will look like in virtual reality during the design phase eliminating costly changes during construction. Review meetings and PHAs are enriched.

  • Q: Do laser scanners work in all weather and all lighting conditions?

    Cold weather or extremely hot weather can pose problems to scanning. Scanners won’t operate if the temperature is much below freezing. Lighting conditions are no problem however since the scanner relays on its own laser light source. Other conditions that are problematic to scanning include rain, snow, steam clouds (such as from turbine exhausts), and severe dusty conditions.

  • Q: Including process plant design, what other industries now are using laser scanning?

    Laser scanning technology is becoming more main stream every day and more and more industries are finding uses for it. Surveyors and Civil engineers may be the biggest users of the technology using long range scanners for creating their project deliverables.

    Old buildings, statues, and other heritage sites are being captured and preserved digitally.

    Law enforcement organizations are beginning to use this technology to document and preserve crime scene data.

    Arial scanning is being used for terrain mapping.

    Metrology scanning systems are available and are being used to control quality on machined and manufactured parts. The list grows daily.