​Laser Scanning in a Coal Prep Plant

Posted by Tim Crammond on 14th Sep 2015

We were contacted by  CBP Engineering, a firm specializing in abrasion resistant materials and fittings, to assist them in getting some as-built documentation at a Consol Energy coal prep plant in Southwestern Pennsylvania. So we hauled in our nice clean laser scanner into the grit and grime of the plant to capture a 42” feed distributor, a relatively small piece of equipment, but positioned and tied in a fairly complex manner - not an easy job for someone with a tape measure and some levels.

Paul, the Engineering Supervisor heading up the project, was particularly interested in the location of the flanges connecting the feed distributor to the cyclones below; while documentation of the equipment exists, the constant barrage of materials passing through and the heavy vibrations of the machinery render much of the existing drawings next to useless. Due to the nature of the parts produced by CBP (many of which are ceramic), the fittings cast must be within a very low error tolerance. Needless to say, a perfect application for laser scanners!

We were able to capture the essential features of the feed distributor in 10 scans with a  Focus3D X 330, using our  Flexi Reference Spheres for registration. An unexpected little snag in the proceedings was the complete lack of any ferrous material to attach spheres to; such a plant typically has an abundance of places to clip spheres to. The reason for this, Paul explained, was the nature of the paint used on the columns and structural elements. Due to the caustic environment the steel is treated with multiple coats of paint, often several mm thick.

Laser Scanning in a Coal Plant

Another interesting discovery made during the registration of the scans was that reflective strips on our PPE did not get picked up by the scanner!

While using a laser scanner isn’t quite as thrilling as precariously perching on a cat walk while trying to grab a dimension the good-ole-fashioned way, the detail and definition picked up in those hard to reach spaces more than makes up for the lack of excitement.

Equipment used: