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Scanning Realities with NavVis

Episode 03 -
Powering progress

Improving collaboration, driving efficiencies, and addressing digital challenges in the energy industry
with Glen Kearns (Intertek) and David Murray (Technip Energies)

In this two-part episode, we take a closer look at reality capture in the energy industry and how innovations are evolving the ability of project teams, engineering firms, and facility or plant owners to collaborate.

Leading industry professionals Glen Kearns, Global Data Collection Expert and Business Development Manager at Intertek, and David Murray, Structural Engineer and Project Manager at Technip Energies, share their views on the processes and technologies that already enable stakeholders to work together more seamlessly and intuitively.


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Reality capture and the energy industry

Improving collaboration, driving efficiencies, and addressing digital challenges in the energy industry

How can reality capture unlock new workflows in the energy industry? What are the benefits from a safety and cost perspective? How can data power collaboration between a wide range of stakeholders? And how can a new innovation-focused mindset drive further change?

Companies in the energy sector find themselves in a rapidly changing environment. Increasing pressure to redefine their capabilities and the current volatility of market conditions indicate that traditional ways of operating may no longer be sufficient or sustainable in today's global market. New technologies and changing consumer preferences drive greater efficiency and diversification of business workflows, impacting how energy production facilities are used and how work is organized.

Many facilities in the energy industry are decades old, which creates significant issues during refurbishment and expansion projects. Accurate records simply don't exist; design plans might be incredibly outdated following years of operation and multiple updates.

It can be extremely difficult to manage construction projects on these highly complex sites, which may be remote or in harsh environments, and involve a number of prefabrication yards and installation sites. It's critical for firms to be able to check what's actually on the ground and verify their construction plans before costly mistakes are made.

According to Glen Kearns, Global Data Collection Expert and Business Development Manager at Intertek, and David Murray, Structural Engineer and Project Manager at Technip Energies, reality capture can be a valuable means of providing the information that energy companies need. However, collecting information efficiently, thoroughly, and accurately in extremely hazardous locations is a challenge – and operations teams must carefully manage any time spent on-site.

What's more, the data delivered by technologies such as laser scanning has traditionally been challenging to access and interpret. On projects with hundreds of stakeholders, only a handful have been able to use reality capture information due to training requirements related to most point cloud viewing software – and its main use has been clash detection at specific times rather than the understanding of all relevant areas in and around the scope through remote access from anywhere in the world.

Removing risk in energy construction

Uncertainties often manifest in operational challenges such as ensuring safety and optimizing resource utilization in exploration and production activities. Laser scanning offers a potential solution to some of these challenges. By creating a highly accurate digital plan of the site and providing integration assurance for modules or complex components before delivery, this technology aids in identifying risks, planning maintenance work more efficiently, optimizing the design and layout of facilities, and ensuring compliance with environmental and safety regulations.

Spatial information gathered through laser scanning can lead to better-informed decision-making, reduce downtime, and enhance performance – regardless of where facilities are in the world. Capturing data from remote locations and effectively fitting the pieces together digitally can help to identify issues that otherwise won't be clear until it's too late – with significant savings of both time and expense further down the line.

According to Glen, the evolution of technology, particularly dynamic scanning, is incredibly important. When laser scanning was first used, the data collection process depended on a contractor setting up tripods at set points in the field, creating clear constraints on the information captured due to obstructions to the field of view.

With the evolution of dynamic scanning, operators can walk through the facilities, collecting information on the way, delivering data of comparable quality to terrestrial scanning and reducing disruption. The data can be captured faster, with less effort and at a lower cost; David estimates there can be a 75% cost saving compared to tripod-based scanning systems.

The technology can be especially valuable for complex projects over extensive sites. Being able to capture large amounts of data quickly, without multiple repeat visits to the site as projects evolve, can be hugely advantageous. In turn, this reduces the on-site personnel hours, minimizing risk and improving safety – which is critical in the energy sector.

Unlocking new ways of working

As the amount and depth of available information increases, there is a need to make this data understandable and actionable: accessibility is another key development in the world of laser scanning and related software solutions.

Until a few years ago, specialized software and appropriate training were required to interpret spatial information acquired by laser scanning, so this knowledge was often only available to experts in surveying technology. But today, thanks to the evolution of user-friendly, cloud-based software (a setup already widely adopted in the industry), the data can be shared with everyone on a project. Updates can be made quickly, reducing the lag time for information-sharing.

Scan data can also be seamlessly linked to other external data sources for the project or facility. Word documents, spreadsheets, databases, files, and even videos related to various project activities can be hyperlinked and geolocated directly into the scan data. This means reality capture data can become a centralized, one-stop-shop for all asset information.

All this centralized data can make communication between all project stakeholders a routine part of energy companies' processes: addressing common challenges and highlighting issues in the field to engineers and managers in the office. So, teams within and between organizations can collaborate seamlessly, regardless of location. This is particularly important on mega projects, which numerous political, logistical and financial challenges might complicate.

As data becomes easier to capture and use, energy companies are increasingly commissioning or performing scans of entire facilities. In turn, this has clear applications for operations and maintenance teams, who can access rich data about individual assets across the facility and share live updates with the rest of the team. Over time, energy companies can gain new value from these digital twins, such as planning and executing inspections more effectively or supporting FEED (front-end engineering design).

But crucially, according to David, democratizing data like reality scans can foster an even more collaborative mindset in energy companies, unlocking innovative ways of working and increasing the appetite for new technologies. All of this will be vital as the energy industry evolves.

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