3D Laser Scanning and Modelling for oil and gas facilities
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3D Laser Scanning and Modelling for oil and gas facilities


3D laser scanning has dominated mass data capturing workflows for quite some time. There have been some great advantages of the application of workflows which have involved the capturing, processing, and analysing of data, using 3D laser scanners and various software on in the market. Some of these advantages include the ability to generate new drawings and 3D models of facilities, where there are no existing drawings. With creating new drawings, facility managers can make informed decisions on refurbishment of existing plants, and estimate the costs involved in refurbishing their facilities. Furthermore, 3D laser scanning is considered the cost-effective way of capturing data accurately for larger areas. This article will cover data collection using the Topcon GLS-2000, as well as processing, extracting key features and creating a 3D model using Magnet collage, and Edgewise software, respectively.

Data Collection

Any workflow that involves generating engineering drawings and models must begin with the collection of data. In oil and gas facilities ,more time is spent to collect data when implementing older, more traditional methods (i.e., tape measures and recording the data on paper). With time being a huge factor in such workflows, data collection professionals require instruments that can collect mass data quickly, without compromising any accuracy on the data being collected. Topcon has such a revolutionary solution with its GLS-2000, and the soon to be released GLS-2200 3D laser scanner. The technology built within the GLS makes it easy for end-users to tackle any job site through its various scan modes selectable on the instrument.

The GLS supports various workflows that a normal surveying total station can perform namely, traverse and resection. Although the GLS is not a total station,, the instrument is able to carry out the traverse and resection techniques with the aid of any standard prism, 360 prism and magnetic targets, allowing the end-user to geo-reference the point cloud data through the control/reference points on site. This also helps also with obtaining accurate scan data.

In addition to the aforementioned benefits of using the GLS in any plant or facility, end-users can post-process the data quickly as all the scans will be automatically registered subject to the traverse and resection techniques being utilised in the field. Furthermore, the GLS 3D laser scanner has an additional benefit of scanning black objects such as black pipes and other equipment or any other dark surfaces without the need to apply additives such as white powder to the surface being scanned.

Data Processing

To make sense of the data the GLS captures in the field, one needs to process the raw data. At this stage, time is very important, especially for individuals capturing data in a gas or oil plant with many equipment including pipes. Topcon has Magnet Collage software, which is tailor made for processing the scans from the GLS 3D laser scanner. The benefit of having the Magnet Collage software in the workflow is the software easily recognises the field techniques the scanner performs (traverse and resection). Once the scan data has been imported into the software, a message will pop up on the screen explaining that all the scans have been successfully registered automatically. Refer to the image below:

The end-user only needs to click the “process” button and all the scan data will be processed and generate a unified point cloud model from which further data analysis will take place. This is a key feature in 3D laser scanning as it saves more time and yields accurate results. This is a solution much needed for mass data capturing for the oil and gas facilities, where creating 3D models and 2D drawings is required.

Once the data has been processed and a 3D point cloud model generated, the next step would be to start designing a 3D model based on the accurate point cloud produced in Magnet Collage. Topcon, allied with Clearedge 3, provides the end-users with a feature extraction software called EdgeWise that has an advantage of speeding up the process of creating an intelligent 3D model of the facility.

Edgewise – Feature Extraction

The EdgeWise software,an as-built modelling platform, uses advanced algorithms and pattern matching technologies to effectively, and accurately model the 3D point cloud data generated into 3D Digital Models.

This modelling software can model as-built pipes, walls, conduits, ducts, and cable trays. The software’s prime feature is in its capacity to significantly reduce modelling time, compared to other conventional manual modelling methods, due to the advanced computer vision algorithm and pattern matching technology incorporated within the software that extract features automatically. This feature helps to save project time, and customers have reportedly saved over 70% of their project time compared to using other traditionally manual modelling software.

A simple pathway on how the process works on the EdgeWise Software, will include:


3D laser scanning continues to be one of the most effective methods ways of capturing mass data in a short space of time, without compromising accuracy. The new Topcon scanning technology has been tested on various job sites and the results have been remarkable. The alliance between Topcon and ClearEdge has provided many customers with a solution that is able to save the customer time by reducing the time it takes to model from the point cloud. These solutions are much needed for creating 3D models of oil and gas plants.


[1] https://www.clearedge3d.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Ramboll-Case-Study-Oil-Rig-EW-Plant_V2.pdf

[2] https://www.topconpositioning.com/gb/mass-data-and-volume-collection/laser-scanners/gls-2000


Written by Edwin Atiegoba and Sunnyboy Moyana