Manufacturing new products often means designing custom equipment from scratch to meet your requirements. Tight space tolerances in manufacturing facilities mean that designs must not only function perfectly but be designed as efficiently as possible. Small variances in design or unaccounted for variables can be costly mistakes, requiring costly downtime in production, new fabrication as well as shipping costs. Designing upgrades or retrofits to work around a process bottleneck can pose additional issues, as the changes required are often critical and downtime stops all production on the line. Many manufacturers make due with manual measurements because that is what their engineers have always done and that is what they are comfortable with. As laser scanning becomes faster and more economical, many manufacturers are taking advantage of 3D scanning to reduce risk and costs when fabricating new equipment.
There are a number of common issues encountered with fabrication projects when 3D scanning and validation is not used:
Design Risk – Designing complex fabrication elements for equipment with many components can be difficult with the best measurements. Often manual measurements can be inaccurate or may not account for all the variables.
Assembly Risk – Custom fabricated equipment can sometimes tolerate small variances, but the more interconnected parts there are, the more that slight variances can add up to huge problems down the line.
Demo/Installation Risk – Unforeseen issues or interferences can stop a project in its tracks. Downtime due to install or demolition issues can be costly, especially when other equipment has been shut down for the installation. With high labor and reshipping costs at stake, avoiding demolition and installation risk is critical.
TIME! – The biggest enemy of many product manufacturing installation or retrofit projects is time. Labor cost and downtime costs can mount quickly. Issues with any part of the process can cause downtime if they occur, both the issue and solution need to be determined quickly
3D Scanning brings unique solutions to these issues that mitigate unnecessary risk and ensure each project step can be validated thoroughly:
Design Risk – When tolerances are tight and all components must work together seamlessly, having a millimeter accurate 3D environment to design in ensures that measurements are accurate and that new measurements can be made any time right from your desk. Laser scanning & modeling also allows you to validate designs through simulation of their operation.
Assembly Risk – With 3D designs alone, there is no guarantee that the finished product matches the design to spec. Validation of fabricated parts can be performed directly at the fabricator with 3D scanning. With a scan of all surfaces and angles, an engineering team can validate every fabricated part before it ships.
Demo/Installation Risk – Understanding the demolition and install process thoroughly ensures that a retrofit or expansion project doesn’t cause unnecessary downtime and delays. Laser scanning and modeling allow simulation of every demolition and installation step, checking for clearances, interferences (such as with conduit, pipe or other equipment) and other risks before a single cut or weld is made, ensuring that you minimize risks of costly delays and downtime.
TIME! – Beyond allowing you to quickly model and account for issues in advance, 3D scanning is a key tool when unforeseen problems arise. A 3D scan will allow you to detect problems quickly while the rendered 3D environment from a scan can be used to model solutions
3D scanning technology is advancing quickly and costs have decreased. Scans and models can be delivered more quickly, in more detailed formats, every year. While just a few years ago it could take a whole work-week to both scan and model a single large piece of equipment, now entire facilities can be completed in that timeframe. This means some scanning jobs can be completed while your team is on a lunch break! This revolution in scanning and modeling technology has brought the field to a practical level where it makes sense in most projects to consider 3D scanning as part of the planning, execution and review of any significant upgrade, retrofit or new installation project.
Filed Under: Product design