The scans in nuclear power plants themselves are planned for weeks in advance, allowing them to be performed only once and in the shortest time possible. For especially sensitive areas eSite works with plant personnel who have the appropriate knowledge, access and training to go in and do the capture even themselves.
The unique form factor of the NavVis VLX allows for hands-free operation, which can enable personnel to perform other tasks or measurements alongside the scans, and avoids contact with any surfaces while the scan is taking place. Rolling cart-driven scanning systems were prone to picking up nuclear contamination from the floors of the plant, and would sometimes require special decontamination or even disposal after the project was done. Walking through the same room with the VLX on a workers’ shoulder minimizes the amount of contamination that accumulates on the equipment – this saves time and reduces decontamination costs.
The procedures followed in working in nuclear facilities have evolved over time, each time striving to define what is “reasonably achievable” – minimizing time and maximizing safety. With the bar being raised by these procedures, the repercussions may resonate throughout the nuclear industry, says Olkkonen.
“There’s an interesting twist: now that it is reasonably possible to do reality capture in nuclear power plants – the industry should do it. The bar for ‘reasonable’ has gone down, which means the safety has gone up.”
Beyond the nuclear industry, the same techniques and workflows can be readily applied to other safety critical and heavy industry – including oil and gas and other power generation plants. Anywhere that could benefit from limiting the access of people to hazardous areas or having a virtual model to practice work procedures, plant owners can drive costs down across the board while maintaining and even improving safety.