3D scanning firm’s reversal of subsea methodology accelerates data capture to resolve technical challenge
30 March 2021
Aberdeen-based 3D scanning specialists, Viewport3, recently applied their remote rapid response service – as well as their ingenuity - to helping a customer understand an issue with their subsea infrastructure in just 27 hours.
The North-east firm was contacted regarding their use of a remote scanning service to help resolve a challenge surrounding a subsea flowline tie-in on a subsea tree in the UKCS. Viewport3’s remote scanning service integrates their photogrammetry expertise with bespoke software to collect and process 3D data from offshore via remote working arrangements.
In this instance, following the removal of a blind flange from the flowline, it was noticed that the two flanges appeared to be mis-matched, and as a result, the gasket was warped. Viewport3 were tasked with scanning and reporting on the shape of this challenge as the next step in resolving it,
As part of their urgent remote response service, the Viewport3 team immediately investigated the availability and quality of any subsea cameras currently available on the vessel. In the absence of these, a normal topside camera was located, inspiring the team to turn the challenge on its head: recovering the gasket to vessel, and using a 3D scan of the gasket to enable create a 3D ‘relief’ of the subsea challenge.
The Viewport3 team instructed the survey team to scour the vessel for a variety of items that would serve as a topside 3D photogrammetry ‘kit’, while they wrote a procedure for the offshore team to follow.
With a compact digital camera in-hand, the team embarked on familiarising themselves with the subject matter and co-ordinating the operation. Via a process of guided capture, and continuous refining of the photography methods, a high-quality image dataset was sent to Viewport3. They processed this into 3D point cloud and prepared it for reverse engineering.
Having requested a CAD version of the gasket profile, Viewport3 went on to create a 3D version of the original part, enabling them to make high-accuracy deviation calculations on the overall gasket. By taking profile ‘slices’ at several sections around the circumference and comparing them to the original shape, they were able to detail the ‘twisting’ nature of the warping experienced by the gasket.
Co-director of Viewport3, Richard Drennan, explained the outcome of the project: "The result of our combined efforts onshore and offshore was a 3D point cloud accurate to <0.1mm, with a draft report being issued 27 hours after we received the data.”
The firm have experienced a huge surge in demand for their remote data capture service over the past year, with 6 of 13 projects in 2020 being actioned as remote capture tasks. These contracts have an international spread, and have seen the Viewport3 team working remotely on projects based in Norway, the Mediterranean, the UKCS and the US.
Co-director, Chris Harvey added: "Our remote scanning process is proving to be a life-line for the industry, as was the case on this particular project – enabling our customers to continue with safety and business-critical maintenance operations, despite the ongoing travel restrictions. The volume and quality of the information we can retrieve remotely, combined with the speed with which we can respond to queries, saves our customers multiple offshore campaign days and streamlines future inspection tasks, all of which results in substantial cost savings.”
Viewport3 specialise in providing 3D scanning and reverse engineering services - using digital cameras to obtain technical grade point-cloud data, which the firm then processes into 3D to produce straightforward reports and outputs. Since 2017, Viewport3 conservatively estimate £13m in savings for field operators by deploying high-end 3D scanning techniques.