Plant 3D survey & PDMS Modeling

Plant Survey and Intelligent 3D Modeling of HELPE SA Aspropyrgos refinery – Vacuum Gas Oil Storage Area / Aspropyrgos, Athens – Greece


Hellenic Petroleum SA holds a leading position in the Greek energy sector, as well as in the greater area of Southeast Europe. In Greece, the Group owns and operates three refineries, in Aspropyrgos, Elefsina and Thessaloniki. The three refineries, combined, cover 76% of the country’s total refining capacity.

As in many refineries and other industrial facilities all over the world, the as-built status of existing equipment and components of the Aspropyrgos refinery is poorly documented. Documentation consists mainly of 2D drawings which are geometrically inaccurate, incomplete and eventually obsolete. Furthermore, for many years, all designed expansions, repairs and maintenance works have been based on those existing drawings, resulting in on-site undocumented interventions, making the situation worse.

Everyday maintenance and management tasks represent a significant part of the refinery’s operation cost. To reduce these costs, HELPE SA investigated methodologies to create a reliable as-built registry of its existing equipment, which, through industry standard solutions will incorporate the results in everyday operation of the facility.

Thus, a pilot plant survey and intelligent 3D modeling project was awarded for the Vacuum Gas Oil Storage Area (of medium difficulty), in order to demonstrate the efficiency of the proposed methodology under real conditions, to reveal possible problems, to clarify the owner’s requirements regarding the contents and level of detail of the intelligent 3D model and attached information, to define the format of deliverables (3D model and digital drawings’ specifications) and finally to ensure the smooth incorporation of the results to the operational procedures of the refinery.

Project tasks

The pilot project’s area is approximately 27,400 sq.m. large and includes, among other equipment, 4 storage tanks, about 300 pipes and a rather complicated pump station with 19 pumps. The project’s tasks were elaborated in two phases:

Phase A consisted of the 3D laser scanning survey works, including:

  • TLS survey using an Optech ILRIS3D laser scanner:
    • 35 total scanning positions
    • 10 days of scanning
    • About 300 millions of points collected
    • Average resolution: 1-2 cm
    • Accuracy < 1cm
    • Georeferencing by assigning coordinates (based on the refinery’s geodetic network) to most scanning positions and additional control points
    • Assigning RGB color to points from internal or external camera photos
  • Basic processing of TLS data and other measurements.
  • Alignment of adjacent pointclouds and georeferencing using control coordinates.
  • Segmentation and preparation of pointclouds for easier management by the 3D modeling software.

Phase B consisted of the intelligent 3D modeling process, using industry standard plant 3D modeling software, including:

  • Transfer of the georeferenced pointclouds to the 3D modeling software.
  • Taking digital photos of the area to be modeled.
  • Collection from the owner of:
    • All available drawings (Plot Plans, General Arrangements, P&IDs, Isometrics, Piping Layouts, etc).
    • All available specifications (for piping, instrumentation, materials, insulation, structures, etc).
    • Drawing and document naming and abbreviations procedures
  • Software Database Creation regarding:
    • Equipment
    • Materials
    • Piping classification
    • Column and Beam Specification
  • Creation of intelligent 3D model, based on the assets of the created database, on pointcloud geometry and on the information provided by the owner.

The above 3D model was made easily available to the owner in 3D PDF format, together with its attached component database tree structure. Furthermore, the final intelligent 3D model was used to automatically extract updated sample digital drawings for the surveyed pilot area.

Results – Conclusions

Intelligent 3D Models of plant establishments have proven to be an essential tool for plant management, maintenance and design. In addition to the geometric accuracy that a simple 3D CAD model can provide, an intelligent 3D model associates every object with a library of components and their full specifications, thus reflecting the true as-built geometrical and – most important – functional state of the plant at the time of the site survey.

Using appropriate reverse engineering software tools, an intelligent 3D model can be used to automatically generate any kind of drawing (PlotPlans, General Arrangement, Isometrics, P&IDs, EFDs), to design expansion components, to perform collision checking, to extract material lists, to schedule maintenance tasks, to perform stress analysis and other calculations and even to totally monitor, control and manage a plant environment.

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