Provide Solutions Introduces 3D Laser Scanning

LIDAR-based 3D laser scanning allows designers and builders to view structural and machinery units already fit as a final product before construction and assembly are finished. Quick dimensional comparison can be made between drawings and constructed units, checks for accuracy and alignment can be made to control the general quality of the product — all while reducing the expense of re-work.

Provide Solutions, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., is developing the use of this technology in the marine industry. In 2002, the company conducted a pilot test in partnership with ConocoPhillips Marine and Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Shipyard. The goal of the pilot program was to determine the potential for 3D laser scanning to minimize rework during ship production by checking accuracy early in construction.

The 3D laser scanner proved to be up for the job, as it is a high-accuracy, highdefinition surveying tool that can rapidly and remotely measure ship sections and components for accuracy and control.

"The purpose of the trial was to integrate the technology to save time and costs associated with ship fitting and rework during the production process," says Scott Cedarleaf. president of Provide Solutions.

The 3D laser scanning technology uses multiple lasers pulses to measure the surface geometry of objects. These line-of-site scans have a range of 1 mm to 5 mm accuracy up to a distance of 50 m depending on the techniques used for measurement and data analysis. The scanner sends out laser pulses to an object and measures how long it takes for each pulse to return to the scanner.

The data from each pulse are translated into 3D coordinates. Hundreds of thousands of measurements are made of each object during a scan, which typically takes 10 minutes or less, and together the 3D coordinates create a highly detailed 3D point cloud.

These point clouds can be immediately reviewed on a laptop computer in the field. They also can be imported into AutoCAD to create 2D and 3D drawings for further analysis, including design maintenance, value engineering and virtual fit prior to fabrication and installation of complex machinery and systems.

Provide Solutions worked alongside the shipyard's engineering and design, accuracy control and ship fitting departments to provide a balanced and objective approach for testing and implementing the technology in the production process.

During the pre- and post-erection processes, units can be virtually fit to previously fitted units and reworked in the staging area. Virtual fit-up can also be made between units and assemblies located at different work sites prior to the transportation of equipment to the assembly site. This proactive approach allows the building team to rework both the fitted unit and the unit to be fitted prior to assembly.

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Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 56,  Oct 2003 BP

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