This blog post kicks off our new Quick Guide series, which will introduce you to different expert topics around underwater data acquisition and asset management. The first part of the Quick Guide explores the benefits of 3D surveys and inspections.

Why go three-dimensional?

The use of 3D data has already revolutionized the construction industry by introducing faster, precise and more visual planning tools. However, there is still unleashed potential in what 3D data could offer in digitizing existing structures and planning repairs. With our quick guide, you will get an introduction to using 3D data in asset integrity management of underwater structures.

Examples of VRT's 3D data

1. Gathering baseline data

“Well planned is more than half done” also applies to construction projects: a careful plan directly affects the final outcome of the project. Similarly to typical infrastructure construction projects, planning an underwater construction project starts by defining the conditions of the site.

How to see what actually lies in the murky waters below the surface?

3D data pinpoints the exact as-is conditions and geographical data. Point clouds consist of millions of points, of which each contains accurate GPS information. This baseline information is crucial for construction planners, offering the opportunity for more detailed planning. GPS presents detailed knowledge about the underwater conditions and lets you see the best location for the construction work. Even very vast areas are covered quickly and efficiently. Information about depth, possible rocky terrain and the shape of the water basin can easily be assessed, analyzed and maintained already before starting the project. Comprehensive and visual results facilitate the management of the construction project.

2. Quality control

Quality control and risk management are important parts of any construction, repair or maintenance project. Quality assurance strategies such as scheduled inspections can prevent costly surprises or even shutdowns. Safe and productive operations in harbours, oil terminals and hydropower plants, to name a few, are dependant on operational continuity, which needs to be maintained with quality controls during the project.

As-built inspections are a standard requirement for infrastructure projects above water-level. How can we execute a visual assessment of structures to ensure the expected quality of the construction?

Precise 3D representation provides easy access to your underwater assets. Underwater, the only way to perform a general inspection visually is to create a 3D model. Visual presentation of point cloud survey data helps to determine the condition of the assets as they are delivered to you in a more photorealistic format. 3D point cloud data accurately displays the possible risks the structures could be facing in the near future. Necessary organizational decisions can be done more efficiently.

Construction cranes.

3. Maintenance

Underwater structures often face high environmental stress. Managing underwater assets requires scheduled surveys to monitor changes over time. Repair and maintenance plans without accurate knowledge can be arbitrary and the calculated costs and resources are represented as estimations.

How can I make sure what needs to be repaired and when, and how to plan repairs cost-efficiently?

3D surveys and structural inspections enable targeted maintenance. Multibeam sonar inspections and information-rich point cloud data ensure that your structures’ maintenance plans can be calculated and tailored optimally in every stage of structures’ life-cycle. With a detailed view, repair needs can be addressed immediately. Regular inspections help to make proactive decisions and long-term maintenance plans for your structures. Resources, such as time and costs, used for maintenance are decreased.

4. Life-cycle management

From planning to construction and repairs – underwater structures’ life-cycle consists of many different phases all crucially linked to each other. Structures are built to last for decades or centuries, which can be only achieved with management throughout their life-cycle, addressing the needs of different phases.

Our underwater structures need to be inspected regularly but how can we monitor and manage the changes over time?

3D data acquisition digitizes your underwater assets for improved life-cycle management. Digitized assets are filled with information that is left invisible with more traditional survey methods. Important information about different phases of structures life is presented visually: visual data helps you to discuss necessary maintenance actions. Digitized assets provide important baseline data for the future: a reference point to compare new findings or to plan future expansions. The usage of BIM (Building Information Model) further helps to calculate materials or create simulations, which all would require great effort and preparation when only using 2D documentation.

Managing maintenance plans with digitized view on laptop screen.

3D survey data in nutshell: Detailed knowledge and digitized assets

Visual representation and information-richness are the clear benefits of utilising 3D point cloud  survey data in asset management. Three-dimensional data is a cost- and time-efficient solution to keep track of underwater structures in different phases of structures’ life-cycle. Structural inspections based on 3D data help in strategic decision-making.


More in the Quick Guide series:

Part 2: Quick Guide: Underwater Inspection Process

Part 3: Quick Guide: BIM in Life-Cycle Management of Underwater Structures

Part 4: Quick Guide: BIM in Asset Management

Stay tuned for the next part of our Quick Guide series!


Do you want to know more how 3D data acquisition could enhance your asset management?

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Karri Kolehmainen & Ville Mäkeläinen

Karri Koistinen

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Ville Mäkeläinen

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