3D Laser Scanning of Above-Ground Storage Tanks

Advanced technology for storage tank evaluation

What is laser scanning?

3D laser scanners typically incorporate a laser source and a mirror assembly rotating at high speeds. Light from the laser source is reflected off the mirror in a programmed sequence, and then travels until it encounters a targeted object. The light is then reflected off of the object and a portion of the reflected light is picked up by the scanner. Sensors within the scanner are then used to compare the emitted light with the reflected right, allowing the scanner to calculate the precise dimensions of the object.

In evaluating above ground storage tanks, 3D laser scanning can be used for a variety of different assessments. The resulting image produced by the scanner can be used simply to identify the dimensions or placement coordinates of a tank. In more complex assessments, laser scanning can help determine whether a tank has tilted or deformed over time due to use or internal pressures. Using application software designed expressly for the purpose, multiple scans produced over an extended period can be compared to identify the speed and extent of tank structure changes.

Currently, 3D laser scanning is most commonly used for the strapping and calibration of tanks, measuring and calculating finite analysis on tank bottoms, dike volume calculations, and shell deformations. The images produced by 3D laser scans enable a complete and thorough evaluation of a tank bottom. Scan data is stored electronically, and can be reexamined and reevaluated in the future. This capability is especially useful when comparing settlement evaluations and ground movement of a tank foundation.

What are the advantages of laser scanning?

The data collected from a 3D laser scan can be used to calculate tank plumpness, “out-of-roundness,” settlement, and other situations requiring detailed measurements. Data can be evaluated or reevaluated after the scan technician has left the tank site, and can also be evaluated for other purposes without an additional site visit or an additional round of measurements. In the future, 3D scanning software applications are expected to support the production of strapping and calibration charts in real time, thereby eliminating delays in tank assessment. In addition, software enhancements are expected that will provide accurate floor mapping and exact patch locations, a significant improvement over current manual mapping methods.

Why use TÜV SÜD America for your laser scanning requirements?

TÜV SÜD America, Chemical, Oil and Gas tank inspectors have been trained in the latest laser scanning technologies and methodologies to provide our clients with timely and accurate tank data. We are one of the largest employers in the U.S. of API-certified and API-qualified inspectors, and our mechanical integrity program is recognized as the standard in the petrochemical industry. These credentials along with our complete range of tank inspection services provide our clients with a single, reliable resource for all of their tank inspection requirements.

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