3D Scanning Gives You Power to Maintain Substations at Your Fingertips
By Isaac Hodgins
An outage has occurred at a remote utility substation. A crew is sent out early in the morning to make the long drive to the site. Once there, the problem is not readily apparent. Since it is an older substation, there are no drawings available, so the crew spends time investigating the equipment. Once they discover the problem, they drive back to the power station, locate the part needed, and then head back to the substation.
While the repair was successful, the problem caused a power interruption to local businesses and kept a crew busy for two days, much of that in travel time.
Now imagine the same scenario, but the utility company has recently had a 3D scan done of the substation. The company, before sending out a repair crew, was able to go to its 3D model – which contained all the measurements and equipment – and discover the problem. Therefore, the crew is sent out with the necessary part and is able to make the fix and restore power more quickly with less field work time.
Having a 3D scan of your substations gives you a workable model of what exists in the field at your fingertips.
3D scanning uses a sophisticated camera that takes 3D images to create point clouds of data that can be turned into a digital model. The 3D models contain very precise measurements of equipment that you couldn’t touch otherwise while it’s energized.
Clients can use 3D models to be proactive and develop maintenance programs for their substations or as a tool when emergencies/problems arise. Some of the benefits include:
- Ability to do upgrades without going to the site – Companies can see if new equipment will fit or work at the substation using the 3D model.
- Saves time and expense – Allows utility companies to identify problems and solutions before sending out a crew. This is especially helpful for substations located in remote areas.
- Decreases outage time – If an outage is due to an equipment issue, the solution can be identified in advance and crews can be prepared to make the fix once they reach the substation.
- Increases personal safety of workers – Using 3D models means less time that crews are touching or in close proximity to the substation equipment.
- Re-create lost design plans – Some old substations don’t have a lot of records; through 3D scanning, we can create design plans with accurate measurements.
A 3D model can be available to companies a week or two after scanning the substation. There is also a big advantage to doing several at once – it allows a streamlined process by planning out a route to the substations so that more can be scanned each day.
"I enjoy solving technical problems and interacting with the outdoor world. As a civil engineer at Shive-Hattery, I can practice what I enjoy while working on a variety of projects in a collaborative team environment. My career has had an emphasis on site design including grading, utility, storm water management, and paving plans (including parking lots). Innovative design is the end result of solving a problem for my clients.
I’m also the Civil Group Leader for the Cedar Rapids design office. Leading is actually more about learning about my group members. We are a teaching-learning environment and I am passionate about taking advantage of teaching opportunities. That comes in the form being a strong example while listening and learning about my group. The more I learn about them, the better I’m able to help develop their careers. It’s fulfilling to see my colleague’s career grow and contribute to creating high-performing teams.
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