At 120 revolutions per minute, an imbalance would have devastating effects. Efficiency is also highly dependent on the blade’s precision and positioning. Such turbines are manufactured at Andritz Hydro GmbH in Ravensburg, Germany, a division of the Andritz Group.
In order to optimise the production and alignment of these complex components, Andritz Hydro GmbH sought a solution to carry out measurements with narrower tolerances and at higher speeds. After researching thoroughly and testing multiple products, Andritz Hydro GmbH purchased several portable coordinate measuring machines from FARO, which were customized for their measurement needs: several FaroArms and a FARO Laser Tracker for dimension monitoring, CAD comparisons and iterative alignment procedures.
Measuring a turbine wheel is complex and challenging because of the dimensions of the,components being measured. In addition to that, the components are not freely accessible from all sides, i.e., mounted on a measurement bench. Andritz Hydro GmbH benefits from the portability of FARO measurement solutions, which enable the company to carry out precise and reliable measurements in the production area, warehouse and even onsite.
Measurements are usually carried out at the production site amidst other components and tools, using FaroArms in different sizes and a FARO Laser Tracker. These mobile, tactile measurement instruments are ideally suitable here: while there are not many measurement points, these are often in hard to reach places or even hidden. Due to their versatility, FARO measurements solutions are not only useful for the quality assurance of blades, but also for many other tasks, such as analysis measurements, incoming goods inspections, finding cracks in raw castings, the alignment of welded components, etc.
For several years now, PolyWorks|Inspector software has been used for the organization and analysis of the measurement data. The alignment functions and the functions related to the analysis and export of data are particularly popular with customers. Christoph Müller Henker, who works in Measurement and Testing Technology at Andritz Hydro, appreciates the fact that the oftware is not limited to standard situations: “We can take a variety of paths to reach our goal using PolyWorks. We use the many export and import options and interfaces to find our own solutions.” In addition to that, each division of the turbine manufacture is a “customer” and has needs when it comes to processing data. The software has no trouble handling all of the respective formats.
While the challenges related to the size of the components are no longer an issue, there is no everyday routine. Andritz does not use mass production; each turbine is one of a kind. The measurement requirements are therefore ever-changing. “Each measurement is its own project”, explains Yener Korkmaz, Head of Measurement and Testing Technology at Andritz Hydro, who is responsible for quality assurance for incoming goods and in-house production.
Size and accessibility mean that the FaroArm and FARO Laser Tracker have to be moved around a lot. The software speeds up the implementation of the measurement instruments. It is enough to align the respective measurement instrument within the coordinate system at a new location. The organisation of the measurement data and the management of the various device positions within the coordinate system are controlled by the software. FARO Laser Trackers and FaroArms can also be combined in one measurement process, which increases both flexibility and range.
When changing locations, the FaroArm is calibrated via the tracker’s coordinate system. The software registers the measurement arm in the coordinate system of the Laser Tracker, without needing to record reference points. This combination uses the classic FARO TrackArm.
For hard to reach measurement points on the turbine wheel or shaft, the PolyWorks App|Talisman for mobile devices such as iPhone or iPad is extremely useful. Measurements can be initiated and project data accessed from a PC using remote access. The measurement technician can monitor the measurement data and correct measurement errors directly from the component. The turbine manufacturer has also found these reliable, state-of-the-art measurement systems useful for other applications. The correct positioning of the individual components can be determined prior to initiating the welded root seam. The systems are also used for balancing the welded components, with a maximum position tolerance of 0.4 mm.
Today, this takes only two hours. Using wire and solder, it previously took at least two days to bring the individual elements into position and ensure concentricity. Furthermore, because the equipment is mobile, the quality of supplied components can be tested directly at the installation site.
The FARO Laser Tracker is particularly helpful for Machine Tool production and set up. It supports different types of control and measuring tasks. Companies can speed up and maximize the ROI with a single technology to be learned, extremely useful for a wide range of applications.
The FARO Laser Tracker is an extremely accurate, portable coordinate measuring machine for precise quality and dimensional analysis of large components, machine calibration, alignment and assembly, reverse engineering and tool building.
With the FARO Laser Tracker you can produce more competitive products and machines whilst efficiently optimizing your production processes.
Jay Freeland, President and CEO of FARO Technologies Inc is one of the leading players in the 3D laser scanning industry. If you know anything about Jay, you know that he has been vocal about pushing the development of 3DLS technology so it can reach the widest professional community possible, a task he refers to as the “democratization” of 3D. Clearly, Jay and FARO have some big plans for the future.
I caught up with Jay following FARO’s 3D Documentation conference this year to discuss FARO’s future, why democratizing 3DLS tech is so important, and why making a more affordable scanner is so difficult. Jay also gave me a picture of what he imagines the future of 3D will look like, and just how far off we are from 3D finally breaking big.
Sean Higgins: During his keynote, Rob Pietsch [FARO’s VP of marketing for the Americas] said that this year’s conference wasn’t about the scanner so much as what you can do with it. Can you talk a little more about the things that FARO is working on to change what you can do with the scanner?
Jay Freeland: Numbers one and two are ease of use and price of entry. When you think about bringing technology to a set of users to adopt when that technology doesn’t exist in the space currently—those are the types of things that can help drive the penetration.
I think the third piece that goes along with that is customizing the solution for the different verticals, and maybe even specific applications depending on how unique they are to the customer. That drives the adoption as well.
For us, internally, we’re driving all three of those at the same time. Some of it is through our own R&D, of course, and there’s still a lot of work to be done on lowering the total cost of ownership, lowering the price of the scanner to the general population.
In many respects, we’re still in the early adopter phase of the cycle. When you look at the price point today versus where we think it needs to go in the longer term, our current pricing is still much higher than the normal threshold for a lot of surveyors, law enforcement, and construction, and those different groups.
A lot of what we do is going to be through mergers and acquisitions. So if you look at the acquisition of CAD Zone, that’s a good example, and a first step toward offering software that’s specific to an industry. There are other acquisitions like that. We can pick up application layers that can easily be attached to the scanner, and allow us to integrate 3D data into existing software.
The last way is via things like the app store. Oliver Bürkler talked about the app store and what we’re doing there. You’ll see users who have very specific applications—they’ll write the app, put it on the app store, and it will go to a really small sliver of the marketplace, but it will be available.
All of that goes back to driving the ease of use for the customer and lowering the entry point.
Sean: This ties into a common theme from the 3D Documentation conferences, which is the democratization of 3D scanning technology. Why is that so important to FARO?
Jay: Number one, it’s important to us because we believe this is the right way to solve the measurement problems that are out there. That means pure measurement in the traditional surveyor’s sense or the traditional construction sense, all the way through the imaging side of it, where we look at how people are establishing the imaging for games, or in the movie or television industries.
The ability to capture rapidly at that level of accuracy and with that level of density and detail is the next evolutionary step away from traditional cameras, tape measures, and total stations.
Number two, if you look at it from a business standpoint—when you’re thinking about surveyors, civil engineers, construction engineers, law enforcement personnel, law enforcement agencies, investigative agencies—there are easily a couple million customers who we could sell the technology to.
FARO as a company has sold to only 15,000 customers in total, and that accounts for the fact that the vast majority of our customers are on the metrology side, in the industrial world, where we’ve been for 30 years. So, we have barely scratched the surface. I mean, that is a massive market opportunity. If we solve that market problem correctly – from the technology standpoint, the ease of use standpoint, the price point – it becomes a viable option for all of those folks to make the transition from 2D into full 3D.
Sean: For anyone who wasn’t there at the conference, what would you say was the big takeaway? I noticed there wasn’t a big product or software announcement.
Jay: What I really want them to think about is the opportunity that’s out there to improve their own businesses, to make their own businesses more productive, more profitable. I want them to think about the opportunity to solve the current problems that people are solving today, plus a whole array of new problems that can’t be adequately solved. The scanner opens up a whole new world for people to do that. That’s takeaway number one.
Number two is that the scanner is already pretty darn easy to use, and pretty affordable, and they can rely on FARO to drive that to a point where it is entirely easy to use and entirely affordable for the population of targeted users.
Now, does that mean that the average Joe on the street is going to walk up and buy a laser scanner? I don’t think we’re anywhere close to that in the near term. When you think about consumer 3D printing and things like that, it’s a whole different marketplace. Somebody’s going to solve problem that through a smartphone, through normal camera technology. The image can be dimensionally proportionate, but it doesn’t need to be dimensionally accurate. It will be good enough for the average consumer, but that’s not FARO’s world.
Our world is the professionals who really need the technology because that’s how they make their living and that’s how they protect the safety of citizens, and how they ensure the efficiency and accuracy of civil works projects, or large construction projects, or buildings and other things of that nature. So takeaway number two is that we are, in fact, going to make the technology accessible to that broad user set.
Takeaway number three is that we are still in the early adopter phase. All the people who are at the conference are the pioneers from an end-user standpoint. So their feedback as to where we should be going – or where we can be going – is vital to helping solve the broader problem across that total market opportunity.
Even if we had a product release, I would say those are three takeaways and the product release would be the fourth one. This is a bigger mission to think about what we are trying to do in a very wide open market where we are barely scratching the surface. We’re just getting started.
Sean: In that case, I’d also like to ask where you’d like to see 3D laser scanning technology used where it isn’t already used. Do you have any ideas for future possibilities?
Jay: You know, I hear this question and of course I get excited, because I think it could be used everywhere. Like I said, everything’s got three dimensions, it’s just a matter of whether it’s worth capturing it or not.
Can I find an industry where they’re not using it yet? I’m hard-pressed to find one where there isn’t at least someone who’s trying it out. Again, we’re in that early adopter phase. For me the bigger question, or maybe the one that’s more appropriate at this time is: What do we need to do to drive better adoption across all of those different verticals?
Sean: How far do you think the industry is from producing hardware and software that makes this technology truly easy for those verticals to adopt?
Jay: I think we’re close. And when I say close it doesn’t mean that two months from now FARO is going to release something that hits the mark—we’re certainly not that close. When I think about the price point that really makes sense to the marketplace and the feedback we get from the customers we are already dealing with, the engineering task at hand is not insignificant.
It’s not like if you sold 10,000 scanners a year, you’d get enough volume leverage to help bring the price down. You couldn’t sell enough scanners the way the technology is currently configured. So it’s a real engineering challenge to be solved. Obviously nobody has solved it yet, and we feel like we’re in the position to do it.
If we’re sitting here in five years’ time and I’m still at the same price point, then something has gone really amiss.
Sean: At the end of an interview, I like to include a big question. What do you imagine for the future of 3D technology? Where do you think it will be in 50 years?
Jay: If I take the broadest possible picture and not think about what we’re trying to do—in 50 years, if the entire world doesn’t have the ability to do things in 3D at their fingertips, then something has gone awry. Will people still hang regular 2D photographs in their houses because of the image, the memory, etc? Of course. When you’re using smartphone or your camera, are you going to have the option to take the photograph in 3D or 2D? For sure. Will you be able to take that data and send it off to either a 3D printer at your house or a FedEx or a Kinko’s that has them? For sure.
Do I think that the professional world, you know, the industries that we talk about that we target, do I think that all of them will be using 3D technology in 50 years? Yes, I think they will be using it, if not 100% of the time, then it will be pretty darn close.
I think people will be able to walk around with something they are able to hold in their hand and get the same image clarity and accuracy, and perhaps maybe not the same range, but good enough for a lot of the projects. I have no doubt the technology will migrate there.
Do I think that we’ll be able to scan data, immediately upload it through the cloud, back to their offices and already have all the data rendered and all the visualizations done before they even get back? No question in my mind. That’s where I see it headed.
I am one of those true believers that it’s never a matter of if it can be done. Yes, there are laws of physics and things like that, but people have challenged the laws of physics pretty effectively. It’s not a matter of if it can be done, it’s just a matter of when. If you give a 50-year time window like that, there’s not a doubt in my mind that all of that, and probably well beyond that is going to happen.
According to Jonathon Coco, Modeling Manager at Forte Tablada, using a FARO Focus3D Laser Scanner took “less then 1 man hour as apposed to the old method of having to use 5 men over 2 days to measure stock pile volume!
3D laser scanning with the FARO Laser Scanner can provide engineers with detailed 3D models which accurately document entire facilities and their assets, such as power components, machinery and pipe work. This scan data can be used for Building Management, Collision Detection for retrofits, As-built Documentation for CAD modelling and other Plant design tasks.
Asset and facility management solutions from FARO ensure that factory layouts are as logical and efficient as possible.
EKO MEĐIMURJE d.d. uses the FARO devices for quality control in manufacturing. In particular, using the FARO Laser Tracker ION is used for parts alignment and saves 5 hours of production time per day on a capital intensive SHW milling machine. Many articles have been written highlighting the revolution from bricks and mortar businesses to online shopping, but this is a story of a company that developed a brick that saves mortar, and then reinvented itself to become a metal products manufacturer with a global client base. It’s a story of Croatian innovation.
The common thread in the activities of EKO MEĐIMURJE d.d. is making things better by making them simpler – that’s why they created interlocking oversized house bricks, which save clay, mortar and brick-laying effort. Besides the brick-making plant, the company also has a retail home and garden centre. But when the real estate crisis hit Europe, EKO MEĐIMURJE d.d. wasn’t caught off-guard.
Having developed their own engineering capabilities to update their brick plants, they already had relationships in other industries and an active development department working on new ideas in the area of metal work and machining. Today, EKO has renowned global players like Liebherr, Caterpillar, Wirtgen and Komatsu on their customer list.
Zoran Zdolec, Manager of electrical facilities at EKO MEĐIMURJE, explains “We use ProEngineer CAD software to design the product in accordance with the customers requirements. Then we use modern metal forming tools to create all the parts.” EKO recently invested in two FARO devices, a Laser Tracker ION and a FaroArm Fusion accompanied by FARO CAM2 Measure 10 software and three weeks of training with Filip Donlic from Teximp d.o.o.– the FARO reseller for Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia. “Thanks to this investment EKO now has the latest in measuring tools for quality control and product documentation.”
Besides the documentation and quality control uses, EKO made one ROI calculation that really contributed to the investment decision. EKO has a SHW milling machine that is used for large parts. The milling head was equipped with a Renishaw measuring head. When parts were being aligned prior to machining using the Renishaw head, the machine is at a standstill and this process could take up to two hours for a very large part.
Filip Donlic was visiting the factory and saw that there is enough room on the machine table to begin alignment of a second part while the first part is still being milled. He recommended a FARO Laser Tracker ION for this process. “By overlapping the process of parts alignment and part milling, EKO is now saving around five hours of production time per day on this capital-intensive machine,” explains Donlic with satisfaction.
The FARO ION is now used to ensure that each part is perfectly aligned with the machine axis while another part is being finished. Once the milling head is free, the Renishaw can be used to collect a couple of reference points, but this only takes few minutes.
The SHW machine operators are not metrologists, and they work in pairs in three shifts. So the solution had to be very simple to learn and to use: Donlic created an in-software app in CAM2 Measure 10. Now operators can simply follow the on-screen instructions and reference points on the edges of the piece until the app approves the position that has been set.
EKO also uses a FaroArm Fusion for general quality control tasks on its own or in conjunction with the Laser Tracker ION when checking large parts or on parts where features obscure the laser line of sight.
Sea cruises are seen as the epitome of an abundance of time and relaxation. It’s a completely different ball game when it comes to running repairs on and overhauling an ocean liner in dry dock. Downtime for these giants is extremely expensive. Any work required must therefore be carried out quickly, and usually all at the same time. However, the dry dock does offer a unique opportunity to inspect the ship’s hull in detail and measure it accurately.
The QUEEN ELIZABETH is one of the most arresting luxury liners in the world. She seam- lessly blends modern ship design with classic elements from the golden age of ocean crossings. Her measurements are impressive too: 294 metres long, 32 metres wide and a magnificent 55 metres high. 12 passenger decks provide space for more than 2,000 passengers.
Following her launch in October 2010, in spring 2014 it was time for a general overhaul at the Blohm + Voss dry dock in Hamburg. The comprehensive cleaning and modernization programme had to be completed within the space of just two weeks. In addition, accurate measurements of the ship’s hull were scheduled to be taken during this time. Data obtained during this process was used to calculate the optimisation of the hull. The goal was to develop new flow flaps and stabilisers and so to improve energy efficiency. In order to keep to the strict schedule and deliver the required accuracy, the contractor in question, SCAN3D Dienstleistungsgesellschaft, recorded the hull using a FARO Laser Scanner Focus3D X 130.
”What was so challenging about this scan was the time pressure and the limited room for manoeuvre in the dry dock”, said Lars Sörensen, Managing Partner at SCAN3D. Sörensen and his team had to integrate into the shipyard’s 24-hour working day at Dock Elbe 11 whilst causing as little disruption as possible. “When we take measurements in shipyards, we mainly have to work nights and at the weekend”, said Sörensen.
With the FARO Focus3D he was able to record the ship’s entire hull in two eight-hour scan processes comprising around 100 individual scans – both from underneath and at various height levels, given that the draught of this luxury liner alone measures 8 metres. “The Focus3D X 130 is ideally suited for working in confined spaces, such as those beneath the keel. It did not take much effort or time to set up, and we did not get in the way of other work taking place around us“. The laser scanner’s high measuring accuracy is incredibly important for the next steps in the process. With a standard deviation of 2.5mm on a ship 300 metres long and range noise in fractions of a millimetre, the laser scanner delivers a highly accurate map of the hull. This level of accuracy is vitally important given that it is not unusual to discover deviations of several decimetres from the planned hull design once the ship has been built. SCAN3D used LupoScan to process the captured data and subsequently produced a reliable surface model of the ship’s hull. Experts at an engineering firm in Finland were able to take this digital model and use it with CFD to analyse flow behavior around the hull. Flow flaps, stabilisers and a new bulbous bow were then designed to help boost the energy efficiency of the ship’s propulsion.
“Our approach had one particular advantage: the data obtained was transformed directly into the ship’s coordinate system. This method produces significant time and cost benefits for future installations”, Lars Sörensen explained. “And the Focus3D enabled us to record basic geometric data quickly and reliably”.
Machined parts have long been reserved for industrial markets. However, they have recently started being used in the construction industry to meet the demands of architects who are continually pushing the boundaries in both their architectural designs and their choice of materials. As a result, building professionals must find different ways of working, breaking their habit of making on-site adjustments, which would be impossible (as machine tools are not portable) or extremely costly for these kinds of parts. Cambium – an industrial company that has diversified into the construction industry – has understood this change perfectly, as Thomas Mermillod, Head of Research and Development at the company, explains: “It is essential for the parts to fit together well, which means it is necessary to have a very precise knowledge of the topography of the site and to position the first pieces with a high degree of accuracy. With the Focus3D laser scanner and FARO Laser Tracker, we are able to meet this challenge.” While new construction is not simple, renovation projects are even more complicated as the geometrical layout of the site is generally notprecisely known.
Cambium was recently faced with this situation when it participated in the renovation of the concert hall in the Maison de la Radio in Paris. Cambium was selected to manufacture and install the wooden panels of the 140 m2 acoustic reflector hanging from the ceiling in the hall. The company made 200 wooden panels, each one unique, with curved shapes and grooves of different shapes and widths. As sound quality is crucial for the reputation of a concert hall, it was imperative to respect every detail of the requirements set out by the acoustics experts (the Japanese firm Nagata Acoustics). “Without the Laser Tracker, we would not have been able to complete this project. We used the tracker to check the panels after manufacture and particularly when positioning the first panel, as this first element is crucial for the arrangement of all the parts of the structure. This long-range tool is very convenient to use: the camera was located on the ground and guided us as we positioned the panels 12 m above ground level. The tool’s range is also ideal for largescale projects, so we were able to work for an entire day without changing its position,” said Thomas Mermillod.
Cambium has been using the FARO Laser Tracker for eight years. The company uses it for the two main tasks for which laser trackers are employed – control and alignment aid. Initially, Cambium also used the tracker for scanning sites and buildings, which was a bit tedious because this required a point-by-point survey. As the Focus v laser scanner automatically creates a point cloud, things have become much easier. The tool proved to be invaluable in the renovation of the concert hall in the Maison de la Radio. It allowed Cambium to create a plan of the architecturally complex hall, which has almost no flat areas (vertical or horizontal) or angles, but many curves. “Another very important aspect of the FARO product range is that it is very easy to use the laser tracker and laser scanner within the same reference framework and using the same software (PolyWorks, in our case),” concludes Thomas Mermillod.
It is no secret that where large-scale major investment is concerned in the current economic climate, infrastructure is a serious front-runner. As one component of a multi-pronged assault on rectifying the UK’s extensive debt crisis, Cameron’s government has pledged billions to the preservation and vast improvement of the country’s arterial infrastructure systems in the hope of stimulating a kick-start for the country’s long-term economic growth. With high-profile projects such as HS2 and Crossrail at the vanguard of the £36billion major infrastructure investment plan, the subject of national infrastructure has become one of 2014’s hot topics. Opti-cal caught up with Ted Harland of Tri-tech Site Engineering and Land Surveys in a bid to get the inside scoop on one of this year’s largest projects; the high profile £300million upgrade of the A1 between Barton and Leeming, that upon completion will see journey times in the area cut by as much as twenty percent.
Tri-tech themselves are a Yorkshire-based surveying and site engineering company, who since 2005 have gained a solid reputation in supporting and facilitating project success for both public and private sector clients
“The project is essentially a £300m upgrade of the existing A1 dual carriageway to 3 Lane Motorway”, explains Harland, MD of Tri-tech, “upon completion, the project will also provide a number of local access roads to serve the local community, and significantly improve safety in the area [which at present lacks the local access roads necessary to accommodate the area’s numerous agricultural vehicles.]”
Falling beneath the broad umbrella of major infrastructure projects for 2014/15, the A upgrade sets the tone for contemporary project process in its use of 3D Laser Scanning Technology, as well as the firm insight into futureproofing the venture’s work through BIM (Building Information Modelling) workflows. “There has been a big push nationwide to start to deliver projects through BIM”, says Ted; “This in turn with the recent development of Scanners, PC Software, and PC Hardware has meant that now more than ever 3D laser Scanning has become a viable option for data collection for this kind of project.” “We have used Opti-cal for number of years now for the supply and service of all our equipment …Their support and service is second to none”
“We were asked by the Morgan-Sindall Carillion Joint Venture (MSCJV) project team to survey a number of existing bridges for the structural design team to process”, he explains, “some of the existing bridges are to be kept, as well as a number modified to suit a new 3 lane Motorway. After having various discussions with the design team about their specific requirements, and whether they could handle such large amounts of scan data, Tri-tech choose the FARO Focus3D X330 model for the job largely because it is the ability to scan at a far.
” Since its arrival on the market last year, the FARO Focus3D Laser Scanner from global manufacturing powerhouse FARO has evolved in tandem with the changing requirements of the survey teams using it. In November last year, the original S120 model was replaced by the first of the X series units – the X330 – which boasted considerable range whilst maintaining the compact 5kg housing that has gained this particular brand of scanner well deserved industry-wide recognition. “In the past we have used the Focus3D S120 to scan a number of buildings for a client”, he says, “The results were excellent, however on this project we knew we required the additional range of the X330 to confidently scan the structures from both sides of the carriageway and get good results. Because we only have access to the side of the motorway sometimes the distances needed to be scanned would have been right at the limit of the S120, which is why we went for X330. In terms of the hire itself, we have used Opti-cal for number of years now and so it was natural progression for them to supply the scanner and all accessories. Their support and service is second to none.”
Speaking about the data captured at the site, Peter Robinson of AECOM’s specialist design team said, “The use of the X330 FARO scanner by Ted Harland of Tri-tech has provided the A1 Dishforth to Barton structures design team with invaluable information. The [sheer] level of detail obtained from the surveys has left a number of the design team speechless, and has allowed [the highly] accurate modelling of existing structures.” He continues; “thanks to the coordinated point cloud obtained from the surveys conducted, we discovered that the original surveys carried out [at the site] were in fact inaccurate, which could easily have led to costly issues on site.”
Here, Robinson highlights the very issue that awards Laser scanning its rightful place at the heart of much of the industry’s recent lean towards Level 2 maturity BIM workflows; that the data you get out of a model will only ever be as good as the data you put in. And where Tri-tech is concerned, no expense has been spared in ensuring total accuracy for MSCJV and the holistic success of their project. “There was quite a lot of prep work prior to the scanner arriving on site,” Ted continues, “control had to be established at each structure using GPS and then tightened up using a total station; all stations were then digitally levelled to tie them into the site network. The beauty about scanning and scan data is that you capture everything in one visit – which at the end of the day saves the project both time and money.”
“We managed to scan all the structures in 4 days with a total of over 40 scans taken”, says Harland. “The processing was then done the following week using the Faro Scene, and the data exported out of FARO Scene Software in a format ready to be imported into Autodesk Revit/Autocad. We know this data is of an exceptionally high quality, and can now be used to design and model all new additions or changes to the motorway bridges – it also provides a real snap shot of what is there now as a record forever, in true 3D.”
With work commencing in March this year, the venture is by no means a small undertaking; “The project is due to be completed in mid-2017,” says Ted, “and I am confident that should there be any further survey work of bridges or structures, laser scanning will certainly be a first choice – not only by the designers but by the site team too.”
Regardless of what the logo says and in no matter which country an automobile was assembled, the result is produced by multi-tonne presses marked with a single name: Schuler.
Schuler’s origins stretch back 175 years and with revenue exceeding one billion, Schuler is a global giant among press manufacturers.
The FaroArm Platinum and FARO Vantage Laser Tracker both offer Schuler mobility for measuring as you can set them up quickly and easily, and also portability as they can be brought to the site where your equipment is assembled with minimal effort. For this reason Schuler values these systems highly, and sees great potential for the TrackArm in the future.
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A scanner is not much use on its own – with SCENE software from FARO, all the scan data acquired on the set can be processed and – with the hosting service – securely shared worldwide.
FARO is a manufacturer of portable 3D measurement technology, and has developed the SCENE software package specifically for the FARO Focus3D laser scanner. However the SCENE software is not restricted to the laser scanners from FARO, but can also be combined with other makes of laser scanner.
Using this software, the user can process the photo-realistic scan data from the laser scanner with the aid of automatic scan registration and positioning methods, and then carry out measurements and 3D visualisations and export point clouds. New tools take care of automatic scan positioning without having to rely on artificial targets such as checkerboard markers or spheres. The range of functions of the software can be extended at will with plug-ins from the FARO 3D App Center, for example for creating a video, for volume calculations and much more. At the same time, FARO has published the new version 1.6 of the scan data hosting service, SCENE WebShare Cloud: This enables scan projects to be viewed, shared and published online. And all with the highest security standard.
SCENE is compatible with Windows from version 7, 64-bit, in addition to which at least a 512 MB graphics card with OpenGL-2.0-interface is required for optimum performance. For stereoscopic display, FARO recommends an Nvidia Quadro card. SCENE uses the manufacturer-independent, binary data exchange format ASTM E57, and the tool also supports all popular formats.
How many laser scanners should be used for a high-quality scan model of which magnitude?
Oliver Bürkler: The crucial factor is always the degree of detail required for a scan. The more accurate a scan is to be, and the higher the resolution it is to have, the longer the scanner takes to record the data. We are talking about a maximum of 15 minutes for a very detailed scan outdoors, within a surrounding radius of 330 metres. The larger and more complex the object to be scanned – for example a large, angular building – the more scans will have to be carried out in order to record all the surfaces. It can thus be an advantage in terms of time to employ several devices in parallel, but it is not absolutely necessary. As far as SCENE is concerned, the software can in principle handle projects of unlimited size, and map them with no restrictions.
How does the scanner store the data?
Oliver Bürkler: The scanner stores the scan data automatically on a normal SD card. If a computer is equipped with SCENE software, data transfer is started as soon as the SD card is inserted, following a brief request for confirmation.
There are two methods available for automatic scan positioning without markers: “Top View”-based registration and “Cloud-to-Cloud” registration. Which of these is suitable for which situation?
Oliver Bürkler: “Cloud-to-Cloud” registration uses all the scan data for registration. In order to be able to operate reliably, this type of registration needs in principle some initial information about the rough position and alignment of the scan. When outdoors, SCENE uses the GPS information saved by the scanner for each scan. Without this information, for example when indoors, the user has to align the scans roughly by hand in advance. In contrast to “Top-View”-based registration, this method requires a little more time but is potentially more accurate.
Prior information about location and orientation are not necessary for “Top-View”-based registration. This method is particularly suitable when there are enough vertical structures – such as walls, for example – available in the scan data.
However, in the case of targetless methods the user has to ensure greater overlapping between the individual scanning locations. So you need more scan positions but you save yourself the effort associated with transporting, fitting and managing the targets.
In which application situations is the use of targets as essential as ever?
Oliver Bürkler: SCENE still supports spheres and checkerboards as targets. The user will normally still want to use targets if he/she wants to georeference the scans, for example, with tachymeter data. The type of most suitable targets depends on the individual case.
In which formats can data such as image files, CAD drawings or cards be integrated into the scan data?
Oliver Bürkler: The user can import files in .tiff, Geotiff, .jpg or .png formats into SCENE. The software then displays the file on a horizontal plane in 3D space. In the case of a Geotiff file, the position and scaling are extracted automatically from the metadata. With the other file formats, the user has to enter the position and the scale of the image, for example by means of a dialog box.
Does stereo 3D viewing work in real time in every situation?
Oliver Bürkler: The output of a stereoscopic 3D view can be easily defined in the 3D settings of SCENE. A stereoscopic view is always possible without any time delay then.
Is SCENE WebShare Cloud permanently integrated into the software or an optional feature?
Oliver Bürkler: It is an optional service from FARO, but from the technology perspective it is fully integrated in SCENE. Advantages of the Cloud service include the easy viewing of scan data in standard web browsers, as well as the provision of data in any size. Users do not need any special software for it. The scans are also displayed as panoramic images, so no knowledge of 3D programs is required. That makes it particularly easy in the case of complex projects to provide access to the data to everyone involved – all without any time delay. Even changes to the project become visible in real time. There is the choice of making the data public or of restricting access by means of username and password.
Is web-based collaboration on the model also possible?
Oliver Bürkler: Yes, that is also possible. Although we recommend that a web conference system such as GotoMeeting or WebEx be used for that purpose when several people are working at the same time. It makes cooperation more effective.
You also offer a free version of SCENE, called Scenect. For which target group is it intended?
Oliver Bürkler: Our intention with Scenect is to appeal to people who are not typical professional 3D scanner users, and to offer them an easy way into 3D scanning. All that is needed are inexpensive sensors such as the Asus Xtion or Microsoft Kinect. With Scenect, however, only one sensor can be used at a time.
Are there any imminent plans for a Mac or Linux version von SCENE?
Oliver Bürkler: There will be no versions of the software for other operating systems in the immediate future. On the other hand, SCENE WebShare Cloud is entirely independent of the operating system.