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Overview

published on

October 2023

Accidents and explosions in industrial settings can have catastrophic consequences, jeopardizing not only human safety but also facility operation and the surrounding environment. Traditional accident investigation methods often rely on photographs, measurements, and physical evidence collection, which sometimes fall short of providing the comprehensive understanding necessary for a thorough incident assessment. However, with the introduction of new cutting-edge technologies such as 3D laser scanning technology and digital twins, a new era of accident investigation has emerged, revolutionizing how incidents are reconstructed, analyzed, and ultimately prevented in industrial environments.

In this article, we’ll explore 3D laser scanning and digital twins. We’ll talk about what the technology is, its benefits, and how it plans to shape the world of incident investigations going forward.

Introduction to 3D Scanning and Digital Twins

3D laser scanning is a non-contact measurement technology that uses laser beams and sensors to capture precise spatial data. It’s a process that involves using specialized equipment that emits laser beams to measure the distance and shape of objects within its range. These measurements are then used to create a highly accurate, detailed 3D representation of the environment, accurately replicating everything in the space, from the position of equipment down to the location of a single rivet or screw.

These replicas are called digital twins. A relatively recent technology, digital twins have become an instrumental component in numerous engineering fields, from industrial to technological, and have contributed to solving a multitude of challenges. In the context of accident investigations, these are virtual models of an accident scene or industrial facility that can be interacted with, analyzed, and manipulated to gain detailed and accurate insights.

Three people look at an industrial laser scan on a tablet screen.

How 3D Laser Scanning Can Be Used in Industrial Accident Investigations

3D laser scanning technology offers a unique advantage in industrial accident investigations. While traditional data collection methods, such as photographs and measurements, can be sufficient to assess incidents, they are also prone to inaccuracies due to human error. With 3D scanning, investigators can capture the entire accident scene in three dimensions, including intricate details that might have been overlooked.

Furthermore, the captured data can be processed to create a highly accurate digital twin of the accident site. This virtual model allows investigators to explore the scene from various angles, virtually walk through the area, and even simulate the events that led to the accident. Such simulations provide invaluable insights into the incident’s causes and help devise effective preventive measures.

Advantages of Industrial 3D Scanning Services

Industrial accident investigations require a meticulous and precise approach. Thorough analysis methods are necessary to uncover an incident’s root causes and contributing factors and to develop the essential preventive strategies to move forward effectively. This makes 3D laser scanning a tremendous asset for accident investigation, which offers several key benefits:

  1. Accurate Reconstruction: With digital twin technology, investigators can reconstruct accident scenes in meticulous three-dimensional detail, eliminating the risk of omitting critical information. This precision plays a pivotal role in identifying the sequence of events and potential points of failure.
  2. Comprehensive Analysis: Digital twins facilitate intricate analyses by pulling tremendous amounts of detail together to create a holistic picture of the incident. Tools like collision simulations, fluid dynamics, and structural integrity assessments provide insight into how an accident unfolded and offer valuable insight in determining the root causes of an incident.
  3. Efficient Data Collection: An intrinsic benefit of 3D laser scanning lies in its ability to streamline data collection processes. By reducing the time investigators need to spend on-site, this technology expedites investigations while concurrently minimizing exposure risks in hazardous environments.
  4. Cost-Effectiveness: Because of the added efficiency of 3D scanning and the reduced need for repeated site visits, cases are not only able to be resolved more quickly but at a significantly lower cost overall.
  5. Preservation of Evidence: By capturing the scene precisely as it appeared during the incident, digital twins act as a virtual time capsule, offering a dependable reference point for legal proceedings and insurance claims.
  6. Collaborative Decision-Making: The inherent digital nature of 3D scanning and digital twin technology facilitates remote collaboration among stakeholders. Interactivity with the digital twin simplifies informed decision-making and the implementation of corrective actions by all parties involved.

A group of people watch as man presents a 3D laser scan on a tablet

Future Trends

Like many technologies, the potential growth and evolution of 3D scanning technology promise exciting possibilities for industrial accident investigations, such as:

  • Advanced Scanning Techniques: As innovations in laser scanning technology continue to become more refined, higher levels of accuracy and faster data acquisition are possible, meaning industrial accident investigations through 3D scanning and digital twins will only become more valuable.
  • Integration with AI: Advances in artificial intelligence can be harnessed to automate the analysis of vast amounts of data collected through 3D scanning. By integrating AI tools into the workflow, investigators can respond to incidents with quicker insights than ever before.
  • Predictive Simulations: Beyond their role in retrospective analysis, evolutions in digital twin technology also make them potential predictive tools. By further refining this technology, digital twins can become proactive ways of anticipating potential accidents by accurately simulating future scenarios, making digital twins an essential tool in refining future safety protocols.

Conclusion

The integration of 3D laser scanning technology and digital twins is revolutionizing industrial accident investigations. By providing detailed and accurate replicas of accident scenes, these technologies empower experts to delve deeper into the dynamics of these incidents, make better-informed decisions, and devise more effective strategies to prevent future incidents from occurring. As a leading risk-based process management firm, BakerRisk has been embracing cutting-edge technologies like 3D laser scanning to provide our clients with the unparalleled solutions they deserve and create a safer industrial landscape. If you have questions regarding 3D laser scanning and digital twins or want to speak with an industry expert, BakerRisk is available. Contact one of our experts today and see just what BakerRisk can do for you!