Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Home/Current Issue >  Management > 

Industrial Facilities Turn to HDS Surveys for Retrofits and Expansions

Manual surveying of industrial sites for retrofits or facility expansion has often required hundreds of hours, sometimes over months, and sometimes involved hazardous locations. When as-built infrastructures were hidden or not precisely detailed in original plans, the resulting survey errors usually led to expensive rework or change orders for retrofit or expansion projects. Fortunately, high-definition-survey (HDS) technology now makes it possible to collect data from hundreds of survey points, with density and accuracy as fine as 1/8-in., in just hours rather than days or weeks. Provided by professional specialists, HDS can be used to survey a plethora of industrial projects such as processing plants, refineries, and mining operations and other facilities that plan to make modifications, retrofit, expand, or upgrade key equipment.

HDS technology is based on an imaging laser that collects as many as 50,000 survey shots per second, making it far easier to provide data that can be used for two-dimensional (2D) line work or three-dimensional (3D) models. An HDS system uses an external camera that collects photographic images in 360° red-green-and blue (RGB) color values. These image files are later fused to data points that are assembled as "point clouds," which can be used for site mapping, project planning, and civil, structural, and mechanical-electrical-and-plumbing (MEP) design as data is extracted into different formats such as AutoCAD, Revit, and MicroStation file formats.

Renovating Old Power Plant
Stan Postma is Vice-President of the Utah-based engineering services firm, MWH Americas, Inc. (a subsidiary of MWH Global, www.mwhglobal.com). His organization recently undertook the renovation of a hydroelectric power plant operated by the City of Logan, UT. He explains that "we needed to evaluate some existing structures, including a powerhouse that is about 100 years old." Postma was familiar with HDS technology: "I knew about HDS type of scanning, and thought it would be a good application for the project. So, we engaged McNeil Engineering's HDS team to do that for us. This service captured all of the information about the building in a very quick and efficient manner, enabling us to plan around the existing structure with very accurate information."

McNeil Engineering (Sandy, UT) is a multifaceted firm that has performed HDS scanning for the past five years, as well as other survey-related services, civil engineering, structural engineering, consulting, and landscape architecture.

Postma reports that the city of Logan, UT also commissioned MWH to survey an existing dam near the powerhouse site that was incurring some design modifications. He feels that the 3D data provided by the HDS system was very helpful in planning that project as well. According to Postma, the data enabled his staff to put the dam into 3D animation for viewing from any angle. This was a very useful tool because it provided a precise reference, and eliminated the need to send personnel to the site for visual confirmations. He said: "We're going to end up with savings on change orders and construction efficiencies all around." Posta concluded that "having all the information available in such great detail is going to save money. HDS scanning is a very cost-efficient tool."

Many design and engineering firms turn to HDS technology because the scans it provides are so accurate, they virtually remove the need to work from records that could be somewhat inaccurate, thereby eliminates the need for rework.

Another McNeil Engineering client, Hubbard Engineering (Mesa, AZ), used the HDS scanning service for a retrofit project at WestWorld, a large, open-air equestrian center and events arena in Scottsdale, AZ. Adrian Burcham, P.L.S., Director of Land Survey at Hubbard Engineering, explained that "the extreme summertime heat was limiting WestWorld use, so the owners decided to enclose and air-condition the arena." He added: "This was a large retrofit project. We scanned the interior because there were no plans available. The HDS technology enabled us to precisely pinpoint the as-builts for design purposes, including the new HVAC system."

Burcham notes that it took just one day to complete the scanning, which he feels could have taken several weeks with a conventional survey team: "McNeil was able to accurately measure every bolt and column in the original structure. Also, we got better accuracy on the visible objects in the arena. We were able to map them tighter than you could using conventional tools."

Burcham adds that the 360° photos that McNeil created from points all around the arena were also quite helpful. Used in conjunction with point clouds, the photos made it much easier to reference the project visually.

Added Safety
Because all scanning is performed from ground level, HDS scanning technology is unobtrusive, making it unnecessary to interrupt production processes. This convenience also adds a measure of safety, as pointed out by Brian Akers, Piping Lead at Job Industrial Services, Inc., Salt Lake City, UT. Job Industrial Services handles retrofit and expansion projects with refineries, mining, and power and gas transmission facilities in Utah and throughout the United States, and safety is an important priority of the firm.

As Akers explains: "HDS technology improves on the safety of our personnel because we spend significantly less field time in potentially dangerous environments." He adds: "This is the case particularly in the refinery industry, where you may have thousands of miles of infrastructure. If we're doing a retrofit, we can have a service provide laser scans, and with the point cloud information we can do a model a lot more accurately than we can do with conventional field measurements."

Job Industrial Services had the McNeil Engineering team perform HDS scanning at a recent refinery project because the team possessed the necessary state-required training certification and other safety-related qualifications. As Akers shares: "That removes the need for our organization to invest in HDS equipment, create a scanning team, and then send them out to the job sites. All that saves us capital and the loss of considerable production time at the office end."


Contact: McNeil Engineering, 8610 Sandy Parkway, Sandy, UT 84070 888-303-7700 or 801-255-7700 fax: 801-255-8071 E-mail: info@mcneileng.com Web:

search login