With extensive experience in industrial design and utilisation of 3D models, Baltic Tank’s technical manager Jukka Sorvari recognised the potential that 3D modelling offered for the organisation’s business operations.
While asset management was the main area to which the company planned to apply 3D modelling technique, the method was first put to practical use in construction work at its terminals. The company realised that an accurate 3D model of the facility could be used as a starting point for the design of the work to be carried out. It would also offer valuable information to the subcontractor responsible for the prefabrication and installation of new pipes.
However, the company had no 3D models of the tanks and other structures at the terminal available, and some of the existing 2D drawings were out of date.
Collaboration with Smart Project Alliance
The lack of 3D models led Baltic Tank Oy to initiate collaboration with Profox Companies Oy and SmartGeo Oy, both of which belong to Smart Project Alliance Group. Working together, these companies were able to perform laser scanning of the area and then produce an intelligent user-interface model on the basis of the scan results. They could also provide tools for utilising the model in the design and completion of the work and offer training and guidance in the use of the system. The user-interface system had to be designed in a manner that allowed its use in marketing too.
Work on the system began with a building project at Baltic Tank’s Kotka terminal. In the first stage of the project, SmartGeo carried out laser scanning of Baltic Tank’s tanks and transfer pipes in the terminal area. This scan also covered the interior of buildings such as the pump station and the loading area.
The scanning system’s software tools were used to produce a simple 3D volume model from the laser-scanned point cloud. Even at this early stage, the model included data at the structural level.
Then, Profox Companies worked with this initial model to create an intelligent Autodesk Navisworks viewer via quick and cost-efficient work processes.
The user interface model was created on the Navisworks platform by linking the facility’s process data gathered from process diagrams provided by Baltic Tank to the system. This was enabled by Navistools, implemented in Navisworks. The end result was an easy-to-use intelligent 3D model, which was created from geometrical measurement data but also includes valuable process information.
The system is suitable for use by operators at the facility because it doesn’t require expertise in use of the design software. Instead, employees can view the model via the easy-to-use Navisworks application, also available in a free version (Navisworks Freedom). This enables Baltic Tank’s staff to make the most of the model without the need to purchase additional software or other tools.
A foundation for construction design
The model also came in handy for JanaSystems Oy, which carries out design work for Baltic Tank – the subcontractor used the model as a basis when planning work that was required at the terminal.
An accurate model of the existing structures is pivotal for project designers, particularly when they want to save valuable time by using prefabricated pipe systems. Prefabricated pipelines and steel structures play a major role in the streamlining of facility renovation projects. In such projects, tolerances are relatively small, so availability of accurate and precise background information is essential.
JanaSystems has implemented the AutoCAD Plant 3D system, which enables piping designers to use a model created in DWG format on the basis of laser-scanning data as a starting point for an intelligent model of new and altered process components. This model can then be used to update the Navisworks model that forms the basis for the user interface system.
An intelligent project site
The model-based user-interface can also be used in prefabrication of the pipelines and is perhaps even more valuable in their installation.
For example, the Kokkola-based Fineweld Oy has used a Navisworks model in co-ordination of its installation work for some time now. The model is a very convenient tool for the work-site manager, who can use it to co-ordinate all the work phases on the project site. Any additional information required in the work can be added to the model, including welding information for pipe connections, along with any necessary documents, such as isometric drawings for pipelines.
If the installation technicians have access to mobile devices, the model and the up-to-date information it contains can even be utilised directly on the installation site.
With the system, work schedules and progress can be monitored with the aid of colour codes displayed in the model. This feature gives the site co-ordinator access to the latest information on the progress of installation work at all times.
The customer benefits from efficient installation processes and systematic procedures, which clearly help to keep the project on schedule and within budget.
Use of the model in plant operations
A lightweight and easy-to-use user-interface system serves as an effective tool for planning and developing plant operations, managing maintenance activities, and scheduling downtime. Such a model-based solution is a convenient tool for the simulation of schedules and visualisation of maintenance measures via animations.
The model also comes into its own in training related to safety matters and the running and maintenance of the plant.
In addition, the Navisworks model can be used in a CAVE virtual reality environment with the aid of VR headsets. This approach makes it easy to analyse any changes planned for the facility, as users and maintenance staff alike can explore various alteration options virtually. This contributes to a facility that is easier to maintain and run throughout the plant’s service life, while also helping to save on life-cycle costs.
Baltic Tank has used the model in its marketing too, to introduce its terminal at the Kotka port to customers. Profox Companies Oy supplied several presentations and a visualised version of the original user interface model to Baltic Tank for marketing use.
A model view of the terminal area.
Profox Companies Oy
Profox Companies Oy is an organisation of experts that specialises in virtual design and construction. This Autodesk Partner company supplies software systems and consulting and training services to process, building, and infrastructure companies that perform design, construction, and maintenance work. Profox Companies specialises in software systems related to Autodesk Navisworks and Navistools, also offering related services and project co-ordination services. The company helps customers to make their project operations more efficient via its model-based project co-ordination processes.