Using 3D to Design a Paint Shop

Laser scanning helps optimize planning in brownfield expansion projects.

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In an age in which almost anything described as modern could also be described as 3D and fast, laser scanning could be considered the most modern method for measuring buildings. It is three-dimensional and fast, as well as precise, and that is why Dürr Systems AG says it is using the method worldwide in its paint shop modernization and expansion projects.

When the data collected from a laser scan is combined with plant plans in 3D, the resulting virtual models reveal potential challenges that can be addressed upfront. This can lead to shorter installation times, reduced conversion costs and smoother processes.

Laser scanning has revolutionized property surveying, says Marc Altmann, who works in the engineering department at Dürr. The laser beam records all relevant features of an existing building, including parapet heights, doors or cable ducts, as well as existing production elements. It can even produce non-contact measurement of hard-to-access areas from distances of as much as 130 meters. A software program then generates detailed images from the scan data.

“When working on brownfield projects, we are frequently confronted with the situation where there is either no documentation for factories and the sections they contain, or just analog original plans that have never been updated,” Altmann says. Laser scanning allows planners to create accurate, current outlines of these facilities. 

Virtual Visit 

Altmann says laser scans provide the ideal basis for planning. For large industrial buildings, the scan data consists of hundreds of individual scans that are precisely matched using reference points. He says they provide a way of reviewing if a customer’s vision is compatible with the structural conditions and engineering of an existing painting line or final assembly line.

Dürr uses the method as early as during the tendering phase of a project. 3D laser scanners measure and collect the data on an existing site, and software then processes the large volume of data and transfers it as photo-realistic images or videos to what it calls a “powerwall” at the Dürr campus in Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany. 

“We can take a virtual tour of any building, no matter where it is in the world, together with our customers here in the Powerwall room,” Altmann says. “This is much more visual than a plan on paper, and makes it possible to identify and discuss complications in advance and find a good solution. This means that a paint shop can be executed as planned with a high degree of certainty when it comes to quality, schedule and costs.”

Identifying Eventualities

The scans have an accuracy of ±2 mm, Altmann says, a level of precision that conventional measurement using a ruler or manual laser could not reach. Forgotten measurements can also easily be added on the screen.

“We create 3D CAD models for a project’s entire scope of delivery and merge them with the laser scans,” he says. “We then integrate our plant virtually on the PC into the reality of the building situation. This lets us see where design problems might occur, for example, due to an air duct in the way of the planned constructional steel work.”

In this way, engineers can visualize the entire layout of the plant with exact dimensions and interfering edges, as well as space for door openings and other requirements. Each individual part of the plant, as well as the plant in its entirety, can be visualized. 

The highly precise laser scans also show features and measurements that cannot easily be seen with the naked eye, like small tolerances in the floor. This enables the design engineer to plan filler plates on the machines or specific minimum distances from the outset. It is not always possible to adapt the plant engineering to the building situation, however, Altmann points out.

“The laser scans let us see very clearly whether demolition will be necessary, which saves our customers time,” he says. “This makes conversion work much easier than doing them while installation is under way.”

Dürr says it is using laser scanning regularly in modifications and expansions to paint shops, which already come with a growing list of requirements and increasing demands for complexity. It has found that using this innovative measurement technology helps projects go smoothly on site.  

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