Exhibitor mention: Using 3D laser technology to capture and manage assets

A3D’s laser scanning technology offers an innovative way to prepare piping and instrumentation diagrams to support your operations.

A3D embarked on a journey eight ears ago using 3D laser scan data to design a range of applications specifically tailored to operators of process installations. Developed around a strong focus on clients’ operational needs. The company’s successful business model has resulted in the engineers developing a range of competitively priced, well-designed applications to assist clients. Whatever the size of your manufacturing, storage or refining facility, A3D’s engineered products enable operational efficiencies in the operation, maintenance, documentation and asset management of your valuable facility.

A3D’s 4D Lizard software is designed for the needs of the company’s engineers and operators to provide the important link between the field assets and the asset management system. In creating a digital twin, A3D intelligent process models, and piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs), are databasedriven. The database contains vital asset information that can, via an established application programming interface (API) link, offer the upload and download of data to and from your asset management system.

Figure 1 demonstrates the type of information which can be obtained/ captured in the field from A3D laser scans and a selection of the deliverables that can be processed from the scan data. Along with existing site documentation, all can be uploaded and collated using the company’s 4D Lizard software for use by the client either via their asset management system or directly via 4D Lizard. The overriding message being, whatever your operational challenges, A3D, with its engineering background, has solutions to meet your asset maintenance and document management needs. A good case example would be P&IDs and the benefits of using 3D laser scan data to prepare these files for a large storage terminal in Deer Park, Texas.


A3D was requested to apply its specialist services to prepare some 650 P&IDs. Unlike simple CAD files, these were to be
built using the Autodesk Plant 3D Smart P&ID software. This was because, like A3D’s Smart Autodesk Plant 3D models, the P&ID files will carry in the background all asset information in a database essential for the intended project, to link with the client’s engineering asset management (EAM) system.

Previously A3D’s client had used traditional methods to validate field data. However, this traditional method was resulting in
a programme which would have been expected to take several years to complete due to resources required. Using its specialised process surveyors, A3D is able to reduce the time taken by traditional methods to months. The speed at which site information can be collected meant that the cost per P&ID is competitive with that charged using traditional surveying methods, with the added advantage that the client also has measurable data for the site for which further A3D deliverables, such as process models, could be exploited.


Forming an essential part of the design process, P&IDs represent the culmination of a process that may well start with a process engineer’s simple sketch. From a combination of process flow sheets, mechanical process equipment design, electrical and instrumentation input, the resulting P&IDs will form the basis for decisions made by the design team. This includes development of control system operations, where further safety and operability studies continue to ensure safe operation of the commissioned process.

Why then are P&IDs often neglected once a process is commissioned and operating? With over 40 years’ experience in the process industries, A3D often discovers that a client’s P&IDs have not been revisited and updated. Further investigation often establishes that both operational changes and new capital initiatives have taken place without a ‘management of change’ that would otherwise necessitate the revision of these once essential documents. Lack of skilled resources, financial pressures, or simply a lack of understanding, all contribute to P&IDs falling into disregard, together with record being retained in various forms. Only after the advent of an incident on site are P&IDs then called upon, as part of the investigatory process with safety authorities.

Calling on process industries experience in preparing and updating P&IDs, A3D took a fresh look at the challenge
clients currently face in maintaining documentation including P&IDs and how its 3D laser technologies would achieve this in a cost effective way. Engineers and Surveyors with the skillset to prepare and update P&ID’s are limited, A3D took a proactive approach to find a solution to this challenge. A3D now captures the site process detail using 3D laser scanners using a combination of both the high resolution images and raw scan data to identify field asset details.


For storage terminals, A3D has considered the typical assets that are to be found, such as tanks, pumps, hose exchangers/ manifolds, loading facilities, ship/barge berths and utility systems. Within these asset categories A3D prepares standard Autodesk Smart template files capturing a typical asset arrangement along with its connecting services.

For instance, within a storage terminal, storage tanks sharing a common pit or bund will likely have been built by the same tank fabricator. Therefore, a tank template can be prepared from which subsequent tank P&IDs can be prepared by interrogation of recorded 3D laser scan data.

Working alongside clients, A3D is perfecting an industry-leading technique to use captured 3D laser scan data as a basis for preparing first field assets, presented as process flow diagrams (PFDs) before completed field validations working with your terminal team to develop PFDs into P&IDs that will include your terminal control detail. The company’s corporate strategy is to utilise, wherever possible, companies local to clients’ individual terminals to complete the recording of 3D laser scan data and then to complete site validations to deliver cost-effective solutions.


Oil and gas industries have changed rapidly in recent years, with new technologies being adopted by the energy sector to meet the challenges of a digital economic landscape such as digital twins. Artificial intelligence (AI) is an exciting new technological field, but what uses could it have for the process industries? A3D is exploring the applications of artificial intelligence in the downstream oil and gas sectors.
AI is a diverse scientific field within the oil and gas industry. There are two primary applications of the technology – machine learning and data science.
Machine learning enables computer systems to learn from and interpret data without human input, refining the process through iterations to produce programmes tailored to specific purposes. Within the oil and gas industry, this allows A3D to monitor complex internal operations and respond quickly to concerns that human operators may not have been able to detect.
Machine learning can also be used to run simulations, using predictive data models to discover patterns based on a variety of inputs. The downstream oil and gas industry can use AI in this way to test potential impacts of new developments or to gauge the environmental risk of a new project before any plans are made.
Data science uses AI to extract information and insights from data, using neural networks to link related pieces of data together and form more comprehensive pictures from existing information. A3D is looking to introduce AI and deep learning technology to help automate its process modelling practices. This will reduce modelling time and obviously costs.


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