Visit our booth at BUILD-EXPO 2019!

We are pleased to announce the participation of ASTROLABE ENGINEERING at BUILD-EXPO GREECE 2019 which will take place at the Metropolitan Expo in Athens from October 18th to 20th.

You are invited to visit our booth (27A at Hall 1, Coriddor A) to learn more about the capabilities, methods and products related to our 3D laser scanning – Scan to CAD and Scan to BIM services.

Join the ECOMED webinar!

Learn about the ECOMED Project and join the network!

Click here to download the ECOMED Webinar Invitation



Dates (alternatively): Wednesday, Nov 29, 2017 OR Thursday, Nov 30, 2017

Time: 11:00am to 12:00pm

Duration: 1 hour

Presenter: Michael Xinogalos, Surveying Eng. NTUA

Register now!

About the ECOMED project

The aim of this project is to generate a sector-specific theoretical and practical syllabus essential for the specialization process of the Mediterranean Ecoengineering sector.

Also, to jointly develop a long-term interaction scheme among the stakeholders of the ecoengineering sector and to deliver a training courses programme technology enhanced in “Soil and Fluvial ecoengineering, Hazard Assessment and Techniques Selection in Mediterranean Environment”.

This new syllabus will be generated during the implementation of the long-term strategy of the proposal “Specialisation process for the ecoengineering sector in the Mediterranean environment (ECOMED)”.

Plant 3D survey for PDMS

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.


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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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Highway as-built surveying

As-built survey and 3D modeling of Highways in Greece: Korinthos – Tripoli highway (static TLS), Elefsina – Korinthos highway (mobile TLS)


Concession Self Financing Projects have been, during the last decade, a common practice for the construction of road transport networks. The basic concept is that a large private J/V undertakes the construction of a new highway section and in the same time takes the responsibility for the maintenance (and improvement) of an existing highway section, from which it collects the toll fees, in order to finance the whole project. After completing the project, the J/V has its full exploitation for a certain number of years, according to the concession contract.

An obvious need for detail surveys of the existing highway sections arises from the whole process. These surveys usually require:

  • Detail “as-built” survey of all highway features (pavement, structures, slopes, signage, poles, etc).
  • Efficient archiving of “as-built” situation for future reference.
  • Positional accuracy: 2-3 cm.
  • Elevation accuracy: 1-2 cm.
  • 3D model (TIN) for highway reconstruction design.
  • Background survey maps (scale 1:500).
  • No significant traffic closure or delay.
  • Efficient safety plan.
  • Permits from local traffic authorities.

Applying TLS methodology

Terrestrial Laser Scanning techniques have been applied in two cases of existing highways (dual carriageway, 2-3 lanes & shoulder), using two different approaches:

Korinthos – Tripoli highway (length 80 km, J/V MOREAS) was surveyed in 2006-2007 using a static (scan & go) approach with an Optech ILRIS 36D Laser Scanner.
Elefsina – Korinthos highway (length 60 km, J/V APION KLEOS) was surveyed in 2008 using a mobile approach with the newest Optech LYNX Mobile Mapper.

Project Tasks

a. Korinthos – Tripoli: Field work tasks and parameters

  • Establishment of geodetic infrastructure networks (triangulation, leveling, polygonometry), also necessary for construction.
  • Static (stop & scan) laser scanning with Optech ILRIS36D.
  • Scanner carried by a vehicle moving or standing always on the shoulder lane, protected by a traffic regulation trailing vehicle.
  • Scanning from both sides of the highway, distance between scanning positions 50-80m.
    1100 total scanning stations, 120 working days for 80 km of highway.
  • Critical issue for horizontal objects: lifting the scanner (better scanning angle, improved object visibility, lower scanning resolution and / or fewer scanning positions required).
  • Lifting device used: Genie Super Hoist (5.6m, 113 kg capacity, CO2).
  • Custom modifications: Trailer integration, 5/8 bolt, longer ethernet and power cables, stabilizers, fuel generator & UPS, etc.
  • Scanning resolution: 55mm @ 25m horizontal / 20mm @ 25m vertical.
  • Pan-tilt base overlap set to maximum (20% overlap, 15 frames/3600).
  • Primary georeferencing: with conic targets (standard traffic cones: easy to install, measure and model), 1 cone (anchor point) per scan position required for sequential georeferencing.

b. Elefsina – Korinthos: Field work tasks and parameters

  • Establishment of geodetic infrastructure networks (triangulation, leveling, polygonometry), also necessary for construction.
  • Mobile laser scanning with Optech LYNX Mobile Mapper (collaboration with SINECO).
    Sensors – GPS/IMU carried by a vehicle moving at 50 km/h on the shoulder and left lane, protected by traffic regulation vehicles.
  • 2 passes for each carriageway (shoulder lane – left lane) for better data quality.
    240 km total scanning distance, 1 working day for 60 km of highway.
  • Base GPS station support (6 base stations on known points).
  • Measurement of positional Ground Control Points (natural targets identifiable on pointcloud).
  • Basic data processing / alignment and delivery of georeferenced pointclouds in 500 m segments for each carriageway.
  • Conversions between global (WGS84/UTM/zone 34) and local (CGRS87) geodetic reference systems.
  • Positional GCP alignment for groups of 3-5 segments of 500 m (typical target registration accuracy < 3cm).

c. Common post-processing tasks

  • Georeferencing refinement for elevations: using additional points measured on both edges of each carriageway every 50-80m (typical elevation alignment accuracy < 1 cm).
  • Feature collection from pointclouds.
  • 3D Modeling (TIN) from features and Survey Maps (scale 1:500) generation.
  • Archiving for future reference: Pointclouds segmented per km.


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Results – Conclusions

While the newest mobile TLS approach using the LYNX Mobile Mapper is obviously the method of choice, the static approach with the ILRIS still has some advantages and can be applied at least for smaller road sections, taking into account also the cost of the two systems. The comparison conclusions between the two methods, in terms of data quality, accuracy and productivity are presented below:

Data Quality


  • Uniform resolution homogeneous pointclouds.
  • No unnecessary overlaps.
  • Less noise from passing traffic.
  • Better object coverage with 2 sensors.


  • Better detail for close objects.
  • Better viewing angle when lifted.
  • Produces organized pointclouds (with normal vectors).



  • No errors from overlapping frame ICP alignment.
  • No errors from sequential scan positions ICP alignment.
  • Good relative accuracy for segments of 500 m.


  • No errors from GPS outage or poor satellite conditions.
  • No errors from attitude compensation.
  • Excellent relative accuracy for each frame.
  • Lifting device can lower accuracy with bad weather conditions.



  • Field works: Dramatically faster (1 day vs months) and safer.
  • Faster alignment and georeferencing of datasets.
  • Significantly faster and easier noise cleaning.
  • Automated feature extraction tools work better with uniform density homogeneous pointclouds.


  • Easier manual feature collection with shaded organized pointclouds.
  • Advanced filtering techniques work only with organized pointclouds.
  • Better level of detail for close objects (resolution – viewing angle).

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Training and on-project support for SAUDI UNICOM on mobile surveying workflows using the Optech Lynx Mobile Mapping System


SAUDI UNICOM Group, with its headquarters located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is a major player in the Arabic, as well as in the global market, in many sectors (trade, industrial, telecommunications, software, media, etc). Its Geoinformation subdivision, U-MAPS, made in 2011 a strategically significant investment by purchasing a high-end mobile mapping system from OPTECH, the LYNX M1. The system was delivered by OPTECH together with the standard company’s high quality on-site setup, calibration and training services.

UNICOM, having undertaken a quite large mobile mapping project, the survey of major corridors for the “Jeddah Storm Water Drainage Program”, realized the urgent need for extended on project training and support, in order to:

  • Incorporate as fast as possible the mobile surveying technology in their standard mapping workflows.
  • Choose the most appropriate from both the technical and financial point of view post-processing software solutions and practices.
  • Create an efficient and productive field and office team, able to elaborate the undertaken project within a strict and pressing time schedule.
  • Understand all the aspects and best practices of mobile surveying projects (mission planning, accuracy, resolution, reference GNSS stations, control points, local datum conversions, pointcloud matching and georeferencing, feature extraction, modeling, etc).
  • Ensure the quality of deliverables and their compliance to specifications.

Project tasks

For this purpose, UNICOM engaged Astrolabe Engineering, investing in its extensive experience in “start to finish” mobile surveying workflows using the OPTECH LYNX Mobile Mapper. Astrolabe responded swiftly by providing training and support during field data collection in Jeddah, KSA, training UNICOM’s personnel in Riyadh, KSA and Cairo, Egypt and also undertaking some urgent post-processing tasks to assist in on-time delivery of the first project sections. On-line remote extended support was also made available according to UNICOM’s needs.

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Results – Conclusions

As a result, UNICOM / U-MAPS successfully and timely completed all undertaken tasks for the project, having gained the trust of a major client in the area. Furthermore, UNICOM possesses now a fully trained, productive and efficient field and office team for mobile surveying services, having elevated mobile surveying using the OPTECH LYNX Mobile Mapper to the company’s major mapping activity.

Airport tarmac modeling

Tarmac 3D modeling and deformation analysis of airplane roundabout loops / Athens International Airport “El. Venizelos” – Greece


The airplane traffic at the Athens International Airport towards its 2 air-corridors (eastern and western) is regulated through 4 roundabout loops, 2 for each corridor. Due to the traffic load, the fact that the heavy aircrafts often have to stop at the loops and the type of the pavement, the tarmac at those 4 areas has developed noticeable deformations. So, the technical department of the A.I.A., in order to define the extent of the damage and decide what kind of corrective actions should be taken (from simple tarmac repairs to full pavement reconstruction), requested a detailed 3D modeling of the tarmac surface, followed by a complete deformation analysis. The methodology should combine a high level of detail (measurement every 2-3 cm), speed (each loop could remain closed only for a few hours) and accuracy (<1cm for elevations).

Project tasks

  • A 3D laser scanning survey, using the Optech ILRIS 36D Laser Scanner, was performed (6 to 9 scan positions per area, scanner on top of a car, tripod mounted, 20% pan-tilt base overlap, distance between scans <50m).
  • Georeference was obtained using conic and circular targets, measured from the airport’s geodetic control points.
  • An aligned and georeferenced pointcloud for each area was created.
  • Sub-sampling (3cm) and triangulation of data points was performed, followed by an optimization and decimation of the model from 3 million triangles to less than 5000 triangles, with insignificant elevation information loss.
  • An elevation map (contour spacing 2cm) was generated for each area.
  • Cross sections were extracted based on the above models and deformations were properly detected, measured, demonstrated and presented in table reports.
  • Results have been evaluated by the A.I.A. technical department and different corrective actions have been decided for each loop area.


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Results – Conclusions

Laser scanning has proven to be not only the most effective method for the project’s purposes, but in fact the only one applicable, offering the required resolution / level of detail and accuracy at a speed that was acceptable for the airports restrictions.

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Railway tunnel 3D survey

Railway tunnel survey and structural inspection, Aghios Stefanos, Athens – Greece


The Greek Railway Organization main railroad, to its northern exit from Athens, passes through a tunnel complex, consisting of four tunnels (two for each railway line), near the small city of Aghios Stefanos. The NE tunnel, approximately 200m long and 5m wide, was built from stones about 50 years ago. Due to suspected deformations of this tunnel in combination with known geological problems of the whole area, the Greek Railway Organizations ordered a stability check, along with a complete survey of the tunnel and the superjacent ground.

Project tasks

  • Establishment of geodetic network (GGRS’87).
  • TLS survey with Optech ILRIS3D:
    • 8 scanning positions (6 inside – 2 outside)
    • Average resolution 1-2 cm
    • Georeferencing: 8 conical targets, additional control points
  • Conventional survey of superjacent ground surface above tunnel.
  • Basic processing of TLS data and other measurements.
  • 3D modeling of tunnel and superjacent ground, H and V section extraction.
  • Inspection in comparison to theoretical geometry.


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Results – Conclusions

The cross-section based evaluation and comparison of the surveyed tunnel wall to its theoretical geometry revealed large deformations at specific locations (e.g. section 15). These locations have been defined and mapped in detail and repairing actions have been designed. Tunnel has been closed until repair works will be executed. Further geological investigation defined the reason of the deformations to be the presence of slate (sch) and clay (PT) formations at the tunnel’s area and the existence of a possible fault between them.

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Tanks 3D modeling

Tanks 3D modeling and deformation analysis at HELPE SA Aspropyrgos refinery / Aspropyrgos, Athens – Greece


During a refinery’s operation, it is a common maintenance task to periodically check tanks and other equipment for deformations, in comparison to their theoretical geometry. Significant deformations are a sign of tank wall weakening and pose a risk of critical damage, thus repairing measures have to be consider.

Project tasks

A cylindrical and a spherical tank at HELPE SA Aspropyrgos refinery were checked for deformations using 3D laser scanning methodology. The cylindrical tank was empty and was scanned internally from a single position, while the spherical one was operational and was scanned externally from 3 positions. After basic processing and alignment of scans, the final pointclouds were used for tank wall inspection. In particular, a cylinder and a sphere where best fitted to the respective pointclouds and deviations from those ideal primitive geometries where calculated. Results were presented in 3D, as well as in 2D sections properly spaced, in order to facilitate locating and quantifying the deformations.


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Results – Conclusions

3D laser scanning is an ideal methodology for this kind of maintenance inspections of industrial facilities’ equipment due to fast data capture, non-contact measurement, high accuracy and, most important, complete 3D coverage of the scanned objects. Thus, the whole object is efficiently being checked, while specialized software makes inspection tasks quite easy to perform and their results comprehensively presentable.

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ECOMED | Hello World!

The “Specialisation Process for the Ecoengineering Sector in the Mediterranean Environment (ECOMED)” project is an initiative to advance the specialization process on landscape bioengineering, and to generate new alliances and dynamics in the sector, within the Mediterranean region. Its specific objectives are:

  • To improve the design/calculation of Bioengineering Works
  • To generate a suitable vegetation database for the Mediterranean region
  • To improve the implementation/construction processes
  • To improve the definition and planning of the monitoring of the works
  • To improve the works analysis tools, to be more effective in restoration and rehabilitation.
  • To improve the contents of the training offered related to landscape bioengineering

So, the EcoMed project will enhance bioengineering works at the different stages and phases: design/calculation, implementation/construction, monitoring, and education/training. This will be accomplished by implementing applied research works from 2017 till 2018. These works include the selection of a set of bioengineering tools and projects within the European Mediterranean region to further study and analyze them.

This project that is co-funded by the ERASMUS + Programme of the European Union will generate new tools to improve the possibilities of intervening in the landscape through techniques and approaches of bioengineering, taking into account the particularities of the Mediterranean region.

Overall the consortium comprises of seven universities and seven companies distributed in eight countries throughout the European region with Universidad Politecnica de Madrid the coordinator. Astrolabe Engineering is among the 14 consortium partners.

For more information on the EcoMed project please follows us through the following social media:

twitter: @ecomedbio

Facebook: Ecomedbio-Erasmus+

Road safety 3D modeling

Road intersections survey and modeling for the design and evaluation of safety improvement measures / High risk locations all over Greece


The project was assigned by the Maintenance Department of the Greek Ministry of Infrastructures, Transports and Networks in order to improve safety for high accident risk locations (mainly road junctions) all over the Greek road network and, in particular, to design and evaluate through video simulations the appropriate improvement interventions for these locations.

Project tasks

  • Selection of “high accident occurrence – reduced safety” locations by the Maintenance Department.
  • Laser scanning survey, using the Optech ILRIS 3D Laser Scanner, of the road intersection area for each location. Sufficient road length had to be covered in order to create driving video simulations, at least 200 – 300 m for each intersecting road. Required resolution was about 5-10 cm, with an accuracy of 5 cm. Scanner was placed on the roof of a vehicle or lifted by a lifting device. Approximately 10 scanning positions were required per location, with a distance between scans 50 – 80 m and 20% (maximum) pan-tilt base overlap was used.
  • Alignment and georeference of the pointclouds to create a single colored and georeferenced point cloud for the surveyed area. Georeference was performed using the scanning stations as well as conical targets, surveyed with GPS from state geodetic control points.
  • Vector drawings (feature collection) and orthophotos (directly from colored scanned points) were created as a background for design purposes.
  • Design of safety improvement interventions: additional lanes (including acceleration – deceleration lanes), vertical and horizontal signage, changes in traffic regulation, closure of secondary roads, etc. Design was performed in vector format and new road elements were modeled in 3D (as polygonal models).
  • Vertical signage modeling (necessary for proper display of traffic signs in 3D video simulations) was performed by creating a small VRML model for each traffic sign. Traffic sign pictures were overlaid on circular, triangular, etc, 3D surfaces and exported as VRML models. Standard traffic sign pictures were available, while digital pictures of non-standard signs (e.g. showing directions) were taken and photos were ortho-rectified based on the shape of the sign. Finally, new (according to the design) signage pictures were created using image processing software.
  • Editing – cleaning of the initial pointcloud was performed and polygonal models of new road elements, as well as signage VRML models, were imported in a single environment, to create the “as designed” total 3D model.
  • Video fly – through and driving simulations were created. Driving simulations (from all possible origins to all possible destinations) were generated by applying vehicle trajectories and calculating distances and video frame intervals to simulate movement with variable speed. The same video frame sequences were applied to “before” and “after” models to create comparative results.
  • Video simulations were evaluated by the staff of the Maintenance Department and the Local Authorities in order to approve the designed measures for construction or forward the design for further revision and improvement.


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Results – Conclusions

Laser scanning has proven to be not only a fast data capture tool to provide accurate and complete survey background data for road design purposes, but also an easy and efficient way of creating “before / existing” and “after / as designed” colored video fly-through and driving simulations to easily compare and evaluate the efficiency of designed – proposed interventions, before their actual implementation.

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