Laser scanning outperforms traditional measurement methods – useful in almost all engineering projects

Aki Perälä is responsible for laser scanning and measurement services throughout Finland.

Laser scanning is displacing traditional measurement methods, especially in large-scale plant engineering projects. And that’s for the best: for customers, this means saving time and costs, as well as more accurate plans. At the same time, the modern measurement method facilitates engineers’ work.

Laser scanning is a simple method: the scanning instrument is taken to the site, where it collects a point cloud consisting of up to millions of measured points. The data is transferred to the computer and it is used as a starting point for the design. ALTEN Finland uses the method to support structural, machine, plant and pipeline planning, for example.

The method can be applied widely in different engineering projects. Laser scanning can be used to measure buildings with an area of ​​hundreds of square meters or high structures that reach tens of meters inside industrial plants. On the other hand, the method is equally suitable for the design and modernization of smaller machines and equipment. The precision of the collected point cloud is also flexible – a small target often has measurement points close together, while a larger one can be depicted more sparsely, so that the data set will not be too heavy.

Reliable measurement data improves quality and brings savings

Laser scanning beats the measurements made with manual laser and roller measures in both speed and reliability. The data can be collected all at once and there is no need for double checking. Fewer site visits are needed during the project, as the site can be viewed using a point cloud. This typically saves several working days.

From the customer’s point of view, the most significant benefits are often achieved later on during the project, because laser scanning also affects the quality of the engineering work. With accurate initial data, the plans will also be more precise. Structures can perhaps be made as prefabs, installation work on site will be reduced and expensive production shutdowns will be shorter. All this saves time and costs.

In addition, the customer receives the assembled material after the project, and can use it, for example, for the needs of property management and maintenance. For instance, the error messages of a remotely controlled plant and their reasons can be evaluated with this material, without visiting the site. With the help of a genuine 3D model, it is also easy to present the site to the company’s management or stakeholders, for example.

Method to be used in all projects

The benefits of laser scanning are already well recognized in large projects. In smaller projects, however, initial data is still often collected by hand. This may change soon, as the benefits are clear regardless of the size of the project. ALTEN Finland’s goal is to use laser scanning in almost all projects in the future, and let it replace traditional measurement methods completely.

Watch the video (in Finnish): Air Liquide used laser scanning to obtain important measurement data from its production plant for plant and pipeline design. A large part of the structures was located at a height of tens of meters, which would have been a challenge for traditional measuring methods. Laser scanning offered the perfect solution.

The author Aki Perälä works as a Service Manager at ALTEN Finland, and is also responsible for laser scanning and measurement services throughout Finland. Perälä has worked at ALTEN for over ten years. He specializes in demanding industrial sites and plant complexes.