P&I Utilizes 3D Laser Scanning to Ensure Safety for Teams and Customers during COVID-19

As COVID-19 has dramatically changed industry standards throughout the country, Day & Zimmermann’s Process & Industrial is leaning on 3D laser scanning technology to keep teams and customers safe. In the face of COVID, important projects must go on, and they have – thanks to this technology, which P&I has used to continue and maintain their projects over the past few months.

Brian Tiffany is this week’s guest blogger. Brian is a Business Development Director at Day & Zimmermann’s Greenville office, and he has been with the Company for a year and a half now. He shares his thoughts and experiences below:

Laser scanning is not new technology to P&I or the chemicals industry, but due to the pandemic, there is now a greater interest in it. By utilizing it, we have been able to create 3D photo realistic models for our customers, which has kept projects alive and moving amidst safety and travel restrictions. Our innovative approach has helped teams avoid having to travel to various locations, which has kept everyone involved safe while still being able to get the job done. 

I believe that we have a tool that can really help people during this period where no one can travel. Looking forward, it’s really a way for people to save money overall.

In one situation that I recall, P&I engineers were unable to travel to a site. Instead of being there in person, we eliminated travel and protected our teams and partners by utilizing 3D laser scanning. As a result of doing this, we were able to accomplish our objective without having to travel, which saved around $8,000 in travel costs. At P&I, we also have our own in-house capability, which has led to a major financial savings, including a longer term cost savings that ultimately may be reflected in overall contract pricing.

Additional Benefits

The accuracy factor of 3D laser scanning plays out greatly. The system saves a lot of re-work in the field because measurements are much more precise. Before it was implemented, engineers were sent to sites with notepads and tape measurers to mark things and create drawings of designs. Later, after they sent their designs in, they would have to return and check their measurements.

In 2020, this whole process is much more time-effective. If we have to do a design in an existing plant and we need to know where all the pipes and columns are, we can go in and do a number of laser scans, which gives us a 3D picture of the space that is to scale. With that, we can measure from Point A to Point B, and we have the ability to look in and move things around. Then, we take that laser scan and pull it into our 3D models and virtually build on top of it, to show how things fit in.

The 3D models allow any project stakeholder or prospective bidder to digitally navigate a building or site as the next best thing to actually visiting the site. Stakeholders can use free-viewing software to walk through and navigate models while also taking measurements, when needed. 

The system can also be used to work with contractors to show them exactly what they’re doing, or if they have to demo or take pieces out. If that’s the case, they can take the laser scan, which is virtually a picture, and they can choose to remove things without having to do detailed drawings. It also provides a limitless “re-entry” for the team needing to go back and explore the building or site’s intricacies and measurements after the initial visit during the design process.

3D laser scanning can be used on any project. It’s mainly being used on projects where we’re doing retro-shoots and we have to fit things into existing space, or projects where it’s remote or travel is difficult or lengthy to get there.

3D laser scanning technology is the safest method for site visitations, since it reduces travel and person-to-person contact. It’s also more than that, too. 

The whole thing has really forced us to think about our work processes and doing things in different ways. In my opinion, being forced into utilizing these tools is going to become a way of doing business in the future.

I think that the end result of this technology is a more efficient use of time, travel, and cost, especially during a full scale pandemic. I look forward to seeing how the use of this new industry standard evolves over time. 


About Brian Tiffany

Brian Tiffany, PE, is the Business Development Director for Day & Zimmermann’s Process and Industrial unit located in Greenville, South Carolina. He is a seasoned results-driven professional with more than 32 years experience in Business Development, Engineering Management, and Process Management.