Calculating coal cubic metres

Case Study

Leica Multistation India

Author: Amit Kumar

Power generation is one of the most critical components for the economic growth and wellbeing of nations. Due to accelerated economic expansion and increase in global energy demand, India has one of the world's fastest growing energy markets. Although the power sector is diversified in this South Asian country, 62 per cent of India's electricity demand is met through the country's vast coal reserves.

Sembcorp, a leading energy, water and marine group operating across five continents worldwide, entered the Indian energy market in 2010. The company is now responsible for thermal and renewable assets accounting for more than 3,500 megawatts of power capacity in operation and under development in seven states. As part of Sembcorp, Thermal Powertech Corporation India (TPCIL) operates a 1,320-megawatt coal-fired coastal power plant in India

Thermal power plant specialists at TPCIL used in the past conventional surveying methods to find out the coordinates and shape of the coal piles. Surveying the coal storage yard every quarter to do the physical verification was a big challenge. Using Leica Nova MS50 MultiStation, the challenges of measuring the exact profile of the coal piles belong to the past.


Expanding possibilities with point clouds



Capturing the site conditions in a 3D environment is the most effective way to calculate volumes and ensures best quality control directly in the field. Using the world’s first self-learning MultiStation, the company captures the accurate profile and volume of the stock and verifies the quantity during reconciliation.

A small variation in volume accuracy would lead to tonnes and tonnes of coal deviation in physical stock quantity. Accuracy in the measurements is, therefore, one important benefit TPCIL valued when capturing the profile volume of the coal stock piles.

“We choose Leica MultiStation MS50 instead of a total station because we were able to achieve the accurate volume of the coal stock yard, and the report generation process is easier using Leica Infinity software. Time and cost saving was one of the main factors in this project. Optimised coal volume calculation can be achieved using the MS50,” said Nandagopal Kesavan, assistant manager of operations at TPCIL.

The physical verification survey of approximately 600,000 – 800,000 tonnes of the coal storage yard used to take seven to 10 days with conventional surveying methods. Using the MS50, the same work can be done in two days. Surveyors were able to see all setups merged flawlessly directly on the unit and determine the scan quality in the field right on the instrument.

Experts processed the information with Infinity geospatial software, allowing to work with the scanned point data and manage data in the 3D viewer.  


An ongoing job



The coal survey project started on July 2015 and has been continuing every year once a quarter. TPCIL receives coal from international and domestic coal mines and does the coal stock physical verification test to:

  • Ensure book stock and consumption of coal is matching with the physical stock available on date;
  • Ensure sufficient domestic and imported coal stock is physically available even when book stock shows sufficient amount;
  • Calculate the amount of coal loss during the conveying by matching the ship vessel draft survey report with the physically verified stock available for the ship consignment.

Geosystems provided a technical solution optimised for coal volume calculation developed for this project and for the company. 

Given the success with the MS50, Sembcorp has procured another MS60 for coal volume estimation.

Reporter 83

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