Got a Rush Job Before the End of the Year?

As we move into the final months of the year it is inevitable that we get “that” phone call. You know the one where your client asks you to do 8 weeks of work in 6 weeks, starting today. Or the one where you get asked to squeeze that one more small job in when you are already overloaded. Before you go out and ask who is willing to work through the Christmas break, read on.

Now might be a good time to consider the benefits of using 3D laser scanning. To get a better understanding of how 3D scanning will work for you, we will look at the 2 different scenarios, first in this article, the “one last small job” and second, in an upcoming article, the “8 Weeks of Work in 6 Weeks”.

One Last Small Job

A couple of weeks ago, we were asked to scan a semi-complex pipe run and do the new pipe model and drawings in Solidworks. The catch was that the client had to have the drawings done and new pipe parts fabricated for an install in one week.

Doesn’t look like much like this, but let’s add some dimensions.

That gives us some better scale. 7.7m in the air makes things more interesting suddenly. So why not get up there and measure it with an Elevated Work Platform (EWP)? Here’s why.

The pipe runs between 2 bunds that have a 1 meter height difference. Add to that there is a pipe bridge directly below it, the bund has a lot of equipment in the area the pipe is running over and the structure for the walkway around it, this makes it nearly impossible to get any kind of EWP in there. The size of the tanks, bund location and layout make it nearly impossible to get the reach from an EWP if you were to try putting the EWP outside of the bund and reach in.

Now let’s have a look at the cost of doing this with an EWP vs a 3D scanner. For the purposes of this exercise we will make the following assumptions;

  • That there are people available to do the measure up that have all the required tickets.
  • There will be a total of 3 people to do the measure up. 2 in the EWP and 1 spotter on the ground.
  • The request for the Job was made on Thursday and there was equipment available for the Monday morning.
  • The only equipment that will need to be hired is the EWP itself.
  • The measure up with the EWP can be done in 8hrs including setup and take down.

(All prices are plus GST)

An obvious choice for 3D scanning on the Cost front, so let’s have a look at some of the other issues that 3D scanning eliminates over the EWP method.


There is a requirement that people in and or operating EWPs in Australia must have Working at Heights training and an EWP operator’s licence. This alone could add another couple of thousand dollars to the cost and a week or more to the time line. This is not an issue for the scanner as everything can be done from the surrounding bunds and existing walkways.

Personnel Requirements

To use the EWP you are reliant on 3 people minimum. And not just any 3 people, but at least 2 of these people have very specific skills. They need to have the above training as well as the skills to do the measure up well enough that the job can be recreated in either 2D or 3D Drawings. Add to this the fact that if even one of these people can’t make it on the day for any reason, you might be blowing out your time line and costs. This is not an issue with the scanner as this kind of job can typically be done by one operator.

Time Line

When inquiring about the hire of the EWP prices I was informed that due to the current demand on the EWPs of that size there was a week too two weeks wait. Meaning if we were relying on one to do this job it would have not been possible in the required window and the project would have been delayed or the plant may need to be shut down until the pipe could be replaced. This is usually not an issue with scanning. With the exception of getting tied up for a big job, most scanning jobs only take a couple of days if not a day or even just a few hours. So you have a better than average chance you can get your small job like this done within a week no matter who you chose to use for your scans.


Depending on the site requirements and the amount of these kinds of jobs you do, you may need to hire more than just the EWP. This is not an issue with the scanner as your service provider should have everything they need to do the job and most jobs can be done from either the ground or existing platform levels.

Site Access

In this particular instance it would be likely possible to do this job with just one setup. The only issue with this is that setup would have been in the main access driveway to the site and would cut off all incoming and outgoing freight. This means the site is effectively shut for the day or that the job needs to be done out of normal operating hours. This could add time and cost to the job. Alternately it could mean moving the EWP each time a truck needs to pass by which could be very painful indeed! This is not an issue for the scanner as it is compact and able to get into very tight spaces, so this job was done entirely in the bund area out of the way of normal operations.

Total Time

All up to do the job with an EWP it would require at least 3 days on paper and the use of up to 3 people. This would only leave 2 days to fabricate the spools required to replace the existing pipe. Possible, but tight. Possibly adding more time and cost to the job. This doesn’t allow for any extra time in case some dimensions were missed or any hold ups for any other reason though.

So what actually happened on this job when 3D scanning was used?

The call was made to see if we could help on Thursday morning and a walk through was organised for the afternoon. The workload we had at the time meant that our only opportunity to do the scan before the deadline was the following day. We did the scan in the morning at 8am. It took just under 2 hours to do the job including signing in to and out of the site and following all site procedures. All scans were completed from the bund floor level, no need to even go up to the platform on top of the tanks. The scan data and 3D pipe model were ready to go to the client by 2:30pm that afternoon. The drawings were completed within a day meaning that the client had 4 days the following week to fabricate the spools ready for the install on the weekend shut down.

While there were a couple of things working in our client’s favour in this particular instance, like the fact we happened to have a small window when they contacted us and the site was only 25 minutes away from our office, this kind of turn around on a job is the norm for us not the exception. So if you have “one last small job” you need to squeeze in this year, why not give us a call and talk about using scanning on it to make sure you can get it in and keep your client happy?

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