LiDAR Scanning: The Foundation of Digital Transformation

Your Facility's Digital Transformation Begins with LiDAR

LiDAR scanning is the foundation for accurately capturing the geometric data and measurements of the assets within a facility. Put simply, LiDAR scanning is the first step in creating an as-built 3D CAD model of your tank farm. Without LiDAR scanning, digital transformation of your fuel facility is not complete.

Good news though, the field execution of LiDAR scanning is non-intrusive and won’t affect a facility’s normal operations.

LiDAR Scanning Your Facility

Collecting facility data with the
non-intrusive LiDAR scanning survey.

LiDAR: Introduction to the Process

The first step is producing an accurate as-built geometric model by collecting point cloud data of the surfaces using LiDAR terrestrial and/or drone scanners in conjunction with the Total Station survey.

The scanner is placed at multiple locations throughout the facility and/or a drone flies above to collect geometrical point cloud data. A point cloud is a set of data points in space. Point clouds are datasets that measure many points on the external surfaces of objects around them. Simultaneously, 4K realistic high-dynamic-range (HDR) panoramic photos are collected at each scan position to be used for virtual walk throughs. Usually, full coverage point cloud data includes equipment, piping, ground, structures, buildings and miscellaneous components.

Next, the office work starts with a process called registration. Scans are combined into a unified cloud model of the facilities by tying the cloud points to the plant’s coordinate system. The cloud model is then imported into software for reverse engineering of the geometrical 3D model.

Whatever eyes can see, the LiDAR scan collects with ±2mm (0.08 in) dimensional accuracy. However, the LiDAR scanning data points are usually all above-ground geometries including, but not limited to:

  • all mechanical equipment (including top of tanks),
  • process & utility piping,
  • supports and structures,
  • civil components including the administration/operations building(s), pads, foundations, dikes, sumps, ramps, handrails,
  • major electrical equipment including generators, control panels, junction boxes, and
  • major instrumentation including control valves and flow meters.

What Does a Facility Look Like After a SAIM LiDAR Scan?

Below is a preview of a fuel facility's scans hosted within the SAIM Platform. The red dots on the right of the screen show the many point cloud data sets that SAIM users can click through to view the facility from all available angles

Screenshot 2022-07-26 133209

Additional Benefits of LiDAR: Inspection, Construction and More

There are many benefits of LiDAR scanning in addition to producing accurate drawings of your facility that most likely was built before computers and may not have documentation of changes made due to new regulations, improved processes, and industry innovations. Collecting accurate geometrical data of your facility through LiDAR scanning also supports important inspection services:

  • API 653 tank out-of-roundness analysis,
  • secondary containment dike volume analysis,
  • tank strapping,
  • ASME B31.3 pipe bulge/ deformation,
  • ASME Sec VIII Div. 1 & 2 pressure vessel integrity & Finite Element Analysis,
  • pipe fabrication and pipe fitting support, and
  • local deformation analysis.

LiDAR scans are also valuable for construction and fabrication industry support of the unique and large-scale structures that make up your fuel and pipeline systems. The accuracy of your scans greatly increases the efficiency and certainty of your project design and fabrication - reducing the possibility for expensive errors, delays, and operational malfunction when assembling your structural components during construction.

Benefits of LiDarvscanning

Spill point identified by secondary containment dike volume analysis.

The LiDAR scan process is a quick phase to complete, and gives your facility the first building blocks in place for a successful, powerful, and incredibly valuable digital transformation.

Houston-based Smart Asset Integrity Management LLC (SAIM™) benefits from the experience and knowledge of the facility design engineers and specialists at its mother company, Argus Consulting, Inc., a leader in the fuels systems infrastructure engineering industry. For more than 25 years, employee-owned Argus Consulting has focused solely on program management, design, construction administration, and asset integrity management of fuel receiving, storage and distribution facilities and systems.

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