By: David Hermida Reigosa, principal of Pyramidal Digital Engineering
There’s no denying the world’s increased reliance on electricity. The primary factors being population growth, advancements in infrastructure to close the digital divide, and increasing use on electronic devices. In light of these influences, here are three interesting facts to consider.
- The United Nations estimates the world population will grow from 7.6 billion in 2017 to 9.8 billion by 2050.
- According to the Digital Divide Council, the divide is shrinking at a rate of 5 percent annually and by the year 2028, 100 percent of the world will have internet access.
- The World Energy Council reports that global energy demand has more than doubled since 1970. Electricity demand will double by 2060.
Addressing the growing reliance on energy will present opportunities and challenges for engineers and construction pros.
The opportunities are obvious in terms of building new structures, supporting modernization, and designing and engineering retrofits. The challenges, however, will become increasingly more complex driven by changing requirements for safety, infrastructure management and emergency preparedness.
For example, the safety and security industry is rapidly changing. Where engineers were once responsible for ensuring the physical safety of their structures, they now have to expand their scope to accommodate the installation of newer security technologies that provide 24/7 monitoring of the building and the areas above and underneath it. This can get tricky with older buildings and substations in remote locations with spotty internet connections.
When it comes to our electricity infrastructure, we have to acknowledge they’re aging. In the U.S., with some structures dating back to World War II, it’s time for an overhaul. Without continued investments in the infrastructure, the cost of electricity will rise, business productivity will slow, and innovation will halt. These are the primary reasons behind the government investing heavily in the nation’s infrastructure, especially when it comes to electricity.
The culminating factor, emergency preparedness, can’t be overlooked or minimized. Having accurate 3D models of buildings, their surroundings, and evacuation routes is no longer an option. More municipalities and emergency responders are requiring them for public safety.
Making the Switch to 3D Laser Scanning
To address these issues, and make our energy supply more efficient, engineers are recognizing the usefulness of 3D laser scanning technologies and deploying them worldwide. Over the past few years, the 3D laser scanning market has become more competitive.
The latest offerings feature portable, hand-held devices that feature powerful functionality at more affordable price points that solutions that were only available from a short list of vendors. Most engineers will find that they can quickly master using one accurate yet easy-to-use device, therefore cutting down the reliance on third parties for measurements and scans.
Along with more accessible entry points, these devices enable engineers to more easily scan spaces, even the hard to reach ones. Most notable is the accuracy of the scans. As any engineer will tell you, this is one of the trickiest parts of a project. Too often, an inaccurate measurement can lead to delays, making unexpected changes on a job site and a hit to the bottom line. With laser scanning, they can get accurate 3D models and fill in the missing blanks in terms of what’s behind a wall or under the ground.
Adding to the accuracy is the ability to collaborate with colleagues by sharing the scans, workflows, data and 3D models via a point cloud or mesh model. Visuals like point cloud or mesh flythroughs offer a collaborative and innovative experience for a client, and the point clouds themselves provide millions of accurate measurements to help clients manage their plants effectively. A secure login ensures that only the approved stakeholders can access the data. Those stakeholders can increase or diminish over time, whether it’s public safety officers that need access during an emergency, or it’s a team from 10 years into the future that’s undertaking a retrofit project and needs to know the exact measurements, and what’s really under the surface, before they break ground.
3D Laser Scan for Plugging Into the Future
The infrastructures of energy suppliers are changing to reflect the impact of age, technology innovations, and population growth. Engineers responsible for designing and managing the future of substations, wind turbines and farms, and other sources of electricity will need to respond to these demands. One of the most effective tools they can use to do this is a 3D imaging laser scanner technology.
These tools provide optimal safety and accident prevention, stronger infrastructure management, and the ability to reverse engineer facilities for emergency response. Essentially, they are indispensable for infrastructure management, digitization and modernization toward industry 4.0.
David Hermida Reigosa is a principal at Pyramidal Digital Engineering. He has expertise in renewable energy and the design and engineering of electrical substations and wind turbines. He uses a Leica Geosystems BLK360 imaging laser scanner.