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Smart, flexible laser scanning technologies augment the thyssenkrupp Uhde value chain

Specialist global technology partner, thyssenkrupp Uhde, complements its EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) and modularisation capabilities and services with the supply of a comprehensive range of intelligent, cutting-edge laser scanning solutions.

It is essentially a quick and efficient way to build a “Digital Twin” which can be used by our customer in day-to-day operations, training and planning for new projects within the plant. Once gathered, the data is imported into 3D software programme and analysed by trained specialists, states Sundip Lokhande, Senior Piping Engineer at thyssenkrupp Uhde. “Our EPC and modularisation capabilities enable us to add further value, offering our customers an end- to-end solution,” asserts Lokhande

He provides some insight into how laser scanning technology works: “’Point clouds’ data is generated from the surface of an object captured by scanning from various angles. A typical plant will require multiple scans, which are then registered or ‘stitched’ together into one unified 3D model.” 

thyssenkrupp Uhde’s scope of supply to meet end users’ unique and individual scanning requirements includes short and long range, 360 degree, 3D and thermal scanning as well as the option of using drones for the scanning of tall structures. Imagery can be captured in black and white as well as in colour. At thyssenkrupp Uhde, customers can always be ensured that the latest scanning technology is employed at all times to ensure the best possible results.

The extreme versatility of laser scanning makes this technology ideal for a host of applications and industries. It offers a fast, convenient, efficient and cost-effective solution for basically any site that operates bulk materials handling equipment, including mines, oil and gas and chemical plants.

This technology is also highly effective for challenging and complex plants and projects. Long range scanners, which can scan up to 100m with great accuracy, are utilised for plants with limited access. “We can essentially scan anything on a plant – from reclaimer drums and pipes to furnaces and hand-rails. Moreover, materials such as steel, aluminium and metal can be scanned,” affirms Lokhande.

Further unpacking the application of laser scanning, Lokhande says it can be utilised for accurate design of new (green field) plants or existing (brown field) plants including modifications and revamps. “The technology also enables us to conduct fault detection and damage assessment of machinery including day-to-day operational wear and tear, deflections and deformations.”

By combining laser scanning with thermal imagery i.e. by adding a thermal camera, thyssenkrupp Uhde is able to detect potentially hidden faults and other heat-related stressors in furnaces (refractories) and boilers. Lokhande explains that when cracks form in the refractory, heat passes through and heats up the body of the vessel leading to potential failure. “We scan the equipment from outside to detect the crack in the refractory with the problematic hotspots. As furnaces cannot be opened and need to operate continuously, our cutting-edge scanning technology can be done while the furnace is fully operational. As part of our preventative maintenance programme, we can determine the scope of repair and length of time required and thereby prevent unexpected catastrophic and costly failure. The customer is able to plan the necessary shutdown and keep downtime to an absolute minimum.” Lokhande adds that thyssenkrupp Uhde’s EPC capabilities enable them to take care of all the necessary repairs.   

Laser scanning technology also assists thyssenkrupp Uhde with its modular build solutions. “We design and build complete modular plants or sections of plants off-site in a safer, more spacious environment,” explains Lokhande. “The completed modules are then moved to their final destination on a plant site. Utilising our scanning technology, we are able to plan the modular build down to the very last detail with extremely high accuracies and tolerances.”

Analysis of scanned data by trained thyssenkrupp Uhde specialists allows for detailed planning including the identification of existing infrastructure in a plant, determining module dimensions, as well as how the module will be transported to the site, including the route.

Once the module reaches site, the scanned data also indicates how the module will be positioned on site. For example, limited access may negate the use of a crane, favouring a SPMT (self-propelled machine transporter).

thyssenkrupp Uhde can also assist customers who require modifications on old plants where the as-built technical documents are no longer available, using laser scanning technology to obtain as-built information (record drawings) of the plant. Lokhande points out that it can take weeks to measure on site with the added risk of injury. “Laser scanning offers a fast, accurate, cost effective and time conscious solution. It takes only 2 minutes per scan to capture an image and build a new 3D model!  

thyssenkrupp Uhde partners with a specialist drone company to scan difficult to reach areas as well as tall structures. Lokhande explains “Scanning provides us with heaps of data which is filtered by our specialists to remove unwanted data; all scans are then stitched together to form one scan. This exercise is very challenging and requires expertise, time and sometimes patience, too!,” concludes Lokhande.

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