Seeing is believing

Oct 20, 2023 | potash news

Mitigating risks using 3D CADD models and scanning
By Carey Carriere and Murray Edmunds

As engineering, construction, and management teams in the potash industry know, successfully integrating new components into existing environments requires meticulous planning, attention to detail, and a commitment to safety and efficiency. Three-dimensional Computer-Aided Design and Drafting (3D CADD) models have become indispensable tools for engineering designs to seamlessly integrate new components and equipment into existing spaces and facilities.

These models offer numerous advantages, including clear visual representations, improved spatial understanding, enhanced collaboration, validation of designs, and robust documentation. Whether it’s large-scale projects like debottlenecking or expansions to increase production capacities, or smaller projects like reconfiguring piping layouts, accurate 3D CADD models streamline the design process, reduce errors, and boost overall efficiency and effectiveness in integrating new components and equipment into established environments.

Consequences of inaccurate information 

Mine sites change over time. From equipment being added or changed, to portions of piping being upgraded, to electrical cable trays being modified, these smaller incremental changes can lead to big challenges when trying to define an accurate current state.

Starting an engineering project with inaccurate or incomplete information that doesn’t accurately reflect the current conditions will result in the generation of imprecise 3D CADD models, and engineering deliverables, at the project’s outset. This can result in a chain of erroneous design choices, which can have repercussions on procurement and construction activities. Budgets and timelines may be compromised, and design choices may lack accuracy, ultimately leading to disappointing outcomes for all involved.

By incorporating precise, up-to-date information about existing infrastructure, engineers and designers can ensure that designs seamlessly integrate into the existing environments, ultimately enhancing safety, efficiency, productivity, and overall project success.

Ensuring accuracy of 3D CADD models and engineering outcomes 

One technique we employ at March Consulting Associates Inc. (March) is conducting up-to-date 3D scans during the early stages of the design process. This approach enhances design accuracy while reducing the time required for on-site inspections. In addition, critical information can be collected via 3D scan in areas that are difficult to access, making it safer than visual inspections. 3D scans are generated using point cloud data collected by 3D laser scanners or through an array of digital photographs. The scan data, often referred to as photogrammetric data, can be imported into specialized software for indexing, organization, and saved in a format compatible with other software programs. Applications can then read the 3D scan file in conjunction with a 3D CADD model created using specialized software.

The benefits of 3D scans 

The adage of “seeing is believing” becomes particularly evident when considering the advantages and benefits of 3D scanning. 3D scans provide a more realistic and practical context for a 3D model, allowing for superimposition, rotation, and observation from many views and perspectives. This capability empowers the design team to proactively identify interferences and determine optimal locations to place new equipment and components. Additionally, geometric and dimensional measurements can be obtained directly from the 3D scan, along with the detection of clashes, enhancing design accuracy and preventing costly interferences that can occur during the project’s construction phase. Using 3D scanning technology, 3D CADD models, and generating photorealistic representations allow our clients to visually assess how new components and equipment will integrate into their existing facilities. This ensures alignment with their operational needs, safety requirements, and production and business goals before starting construction.

Generating 3D scans and developing 3D CADD models requires expertise 

The generation of 3D scans for mining design projects typically requires specialized equipment and expertise. Choosing the method and the engineering professionals to support you depends on specific project needs, encompassing factors such as site size, required detail level, budgetary constraints, and the technology availability. Collaborating with experts in geospatial data capture and 3D modeling who have extensive experience in underground and surface potash mine sites will significantly improve the quality of the engineering solutions.

March has a wealth of experience in employing 3D scanning technology to generate precise 3D models for numerous potash mining projects. We have accumulated this expertise over our 25 years of operation in Saskatchewan. When designing for our clients, we leverage the right cutting-edge 3D scanning and modeling technology tailored for the project and the outcomes our clients need. This trusted service has gained popularity among our clients, and for many, has become an essential requirement for their projects. 

Carey Carriere, senior mechanical designer, March Consulting Associates Inc.

Carey Carriere is a knowledgeable senior mechanical designer with over 14 years of experience. She is skilled in the production of 3D models and detail drawings of mechanical and structural systems. Carriere’s experience has made her a key member of the mechanical team for projects in a variety of industries with a specialty in mining operations. She has contributed to many projects from commissioning through to construction and successful completion. 

Murray Edmunds, senior mechanical designer, March Consulting Associates Inc.

Murray Edmunds is a knowledgeable senior mechanical designer with over 17 years of experience in multiple sectors. His leadership skills and technical expertise have been an asset to many recent projects where he has served as the layout and mechanical design lead. Edmunds has a broad base of knowledge with many software programs, as well as a substantial background in surface mining design projects.

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