Improving industrial safety with the Leica BLK360

Minimizing risks for installation teams

Expert Insight: Improving Industrial Safety with the BLK360

Picture: TOLOGA Engineering AG

Industrial production is a combination of very complex processes and procedures, which must be precisely coordinated to achieve maximum efficiency with minimum wear and tear. The abrasion of production machines and their parts is always a significant factor, which is why certain parts must be repaired or replaced regularly. Not least also to keep the risk of an unplanned stop and loss of production as low as possible. Therefore, parts of a plant are shut down at regular intervals to be able to carry out scheduled inspection work safely.

How can a Leica Geosystems laser scanner, for example, the BLK360, help safety managers and inspection staff to support their work on a plant? By creating a digital twin (a complete 3D model) of the plant, which can be virtually inspected at any time and from any place.

Industrial Safety BLK360
Picture: Leica BLK360 laser scanner


The procedure of a revision in a waste incineration plant

Let’s have a look at a waste incineration plant as an example. A waste incineration plant does not only incinerate waste and residual materials but also generates energy. A complicated system of pipes and walls with cables encloses the place of incineration. The water fed into the system turns into steam and the steam can be used for heating, for example, or drives a turbine to generate electricity. During combustion, temperatures of sometimes well over 1000°C can occur. The temperatures are highest in the main fire area, which is why this area is often the most maintenance intensive.

The risks for the installation teams

The high temperature of the combustion puts an extraordinary strain on all materials and components of the plant.  In addition to the temperature, also different physical and chemical reactions take place. Respective procedures and tasks must be completed for a successful revision within a usually very tight schedule. The environment of the individual workplaces plays a special role here. They are often closed spaces, such as e.g. tanks or large sections of the production line itself, which enclose the loading area, the main fire area and the subsequent path of the exhaust gases caused by the combustion up to the chimney.

Industrial Safety with the BLK360_Tologa
Picture: TOLOGA Engineering AG

The inspection of such hazardous areas requires very specific tasks and procedures, which must be carried out in parallel or consecutively and are sometimes interdependent. This can be quite complicated when other parts of the plant are still running. Many plants have several production lines, which are rarely all inspected at the same time for safety reasons. All these factors influence very important topics, which are industrial and occupational safety.

Safety at work

Occupational safety has an enormous influence on the work in a plant. Especially on the coordination of the consecutive revision tasks. Occupational safety comes even before the quality of the assembly or even the production schedule. The safety and health of the plant employees like e.g. maintenance teams, operators or suppliers have the highest priority.

Revision management and planning

Audits, revisions and maintenance works require exceptionally good planning. One of the major challenges is to correctly estimate the need for repairs, based on wear and tear of the machines and equipment as well as the costs and the time required for proper revision, especially concerning a possible interruption or delay in production on one or more production lines.

Whether an audit can be carried out successfully depends, among others, on these factors:

  • How quickly one can obtain a complete picture of the system
  • How quickly the collected data can be processed and analysed
  • How well the maintenance teams are prepared for dangerous or unforeseen situations
  • How promptly can the findings be exchanged with the relevant parties
  • How quickly informed decisions can be made

Leica BLK360 Imaging Laser Scanner provides the best information for decision-makers

Decision-makers need reliable and comprehensive information. With the help of the BLK360, a highly portable imaging laser scanner from Leica Geosystems, information about the main fire & afterburn, grate, slag chute, charging and transition to the 2nd train as well as the material on the scaffolding was collected in the waste incineration plant. It is probably the most maintenance-intensive part of the plant.

The comprehensive data collection and the documentation were made within only 2 hours of work. The result was the so-called “Digital twin”, a millimetre-accurate image of the plant in 3D, which can be "walked through" virtually at any time.

Based on this information, safety managers were able to create an escape or recovery plan, which is mandatory in many power plants today.  Escape plans are designed for the fastest and safest evacuation of the people working in the plant. The evacuation plans also help the rescue services to find the right way to transport injured workers and to move around the plant quickly and safely. 

Industrial Safety_Scans_all
Pictures: TOLOGA Engineering AG

The details of the scaffolding construction are here an essential part of a safety concept for the revision of the plant to detect possible defects. The position of the scaffolding within the boiler construction is also important. In the so-called boiler house, there is a construction of stairways, different floors, pipes, ducts and tubes. Often there are more than 7 floors with different heights in a plant.

Decision-makers, plant staff and emergency services need to know where the water connections, compressed air and electricity are located, and the ways to get from one floor to the next section of the building in the fastest and safest way. Detailed plant plans are also important for safe navigation within a facility to know where a freight elevator is located to transport materials, where the control room is, where are the eye-rinsing facilities, where is the defibrillator and where is the emergency telephone?

For the creation of the digital twin of a plan, the BLK360 imaging laser scanner:

  • Measures entire plants with millimetre precision and unparalleled speed
  • Simplifies the documentation of hazardous and hard to reach areas due to its small size and high performance (the imaging laser scanner can be mounted on an extendable tripod. Cranes, lifting platforms and descenders are no longer required.)
  • Minimises the time spent in potentially dangerous operating locations
  • Maximises the safety of on-site personnel through prior virtual preparation and virtual visit of the digital twin of the plant

The knowledge gained from the comprehensive 3D documentation of the plant with the BLK360 can be used by the safety managers and other decision-makers both: for the upcoming revision and future maintenance measures. 

Based on the informed decisions, a safe environment for the execution of a revision or a rescue operation is guaranteed and a 3D model of the plant can be inspected and visited "virtually" at any time and from any place, by the different parties involved in the revision process.


For more information about the BLK360 and our solutions in the field of industrial and occupational safety, please contact us here.


About the author: Mathias Fahning

My name is Mathias Fahning and I work for Hexagon Geosystems as Business Development Manager in the area of Public Safety, Security and Forensics. 

I did my service (mechanized infantry, parachutist in the reconnaissance battalion, boarding team in the naval security) with the German Bundeswehr for several years. In December 2005 I was discharged as planned with the end of my service and with the award of the "Medal of Honour of the German Armed Forces".

From 2005 on I focused on a civilian career. For 10 years I was employed by Mokesa AG (Basel, Switzerland) as technical project manager and the company's security officer. Between 2017 and 2018 I worked for a Dutch company as General Manager in the field of security.

From 2018 to 2019 I was employed by FARO Europe GmbH as Sales Engineer and Business Development Manager in the Public Safety division.


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