Putting the Leica RTC360 LT to the test for boat building and marine applications

Customer profile

Author: Tamara Stakic

Blue Marble Marine, an Australian firm who provides laser scanning and reverse engineering of marine structures and equipment recently acquired the Leica RTC360 LT 3D laser scanner to increase productivity by reducing the amount of time needed to spend on-site to capture marine structures such as boat hulls, superstructures and maritime equipment.

Blue Marble Marine specialises in scanning and modelling vessels for builders and naval architects who are seeking Australian Maritime Safety Authority compliance (AMSA). The electronic surface models can also be used for a variety of other applications, including hull or superstructure rebuilds, build monitoring for quality assurance and damage repairs. Their clients rely on Blue Marble Marine to deliver accurate 3D models, point clouds for mesh creation and finite element analysis (FEA), basic hydrostatic calculations, lines plans and full-sized plots.

Matthew Morgan, owner and operator of Blue Marble Marine has been part of the industry for 30 years and is no stranger to Leica Geosystems – Morgan has been an owner of the Leica TC703 total station for approximately 15 years. The TC703 has been used to scan at least 200 boats and still functions as a way to document the alignment of propulsion and rudder shafts.

Over the years as the leisure boats have become larger, Morgan has found himself spending more time on site and needed a quicker solution that wouldn’t require a two-person operation.

Unmatched speed

Morgan reached out to C.R. Kennedy, Leica Geosystems distributor in Australia to put the RTC360 LT laser scanner to the test. During the demonstration, to determine the productivity to be gained with the help of the RTC360, Morgan and Jennifer Ludwig, software application engineer at C.R. Kennedy concurrently scanned a 50-foot boat. Ludwig used the RTC360 LT and Morgan used his traditional method, the TC703 total station.

The results weren’t surprising. Ludwig was able to scan the boat three times quicker than Morgan, who also had to rely on an additional person. With a measuring rate of up to 1 million points per second and advanced High-Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging system, it was clear to Morgan that the RTC360 LT would give him the productivity edge over the more traditional methods.

The vessel that Ludwig and Morgan scanned to demonstrate the RTC360 LT. This demonstration convinced Morgan to upgrade to the RTC360 LT.

Another prerequisite important to Morgan was an instrument that was simple enough to use without being a trained surveyor - thanks to the one-button operation the RTC360 LT ticked the box. While the instrument needs to be fit for purpose, it also needs to be easily integrated into the existing workflow. “Our workflow involves capturing existing boat hulls and superstructures, as points, and then creating best fit surfaces to these points. Almost all our work involves curved surfaces and the resulting surface model is then be used to perform hydrostatic analysis by naval architects or for interior fit-out by boat builders,” said Morgan.

Under guidance by Ludwig, Morgan was able to easily incorporate the RTC360 LT in the current workflow to create 3D models in Rhinoceros® (Rhino) and deliver the 3D surface models to naval architects. Due to the ample data that is captured by the RTC360 LT, Morgan can deliver the point cloud to the naval architects as well as a 2D or 3D CAD file. Having the ability to provide additional images to the client at the same time is another bonus and added value Morgan can offer especially for record-keeping and damage insurance claims.

The vessel and the ramp were scanned using the RTC360 LT to simulate the launch of a refitted "Perry 57” catamaran. Blue Marble Marine needed to determine the tide height required to float the vessel off the launching trailer.

Embracing technology

As the boat building and marine industry adopts 3D laser scanning, for Morgan, having the latest technology has ensured he is at the forefront in his industry and can go above and beyond to provide information to clients. Cutting the time spent on the site means Morgan can focus his time on the deliverables that really matter to his clients.

“In addition to our industry adopting 3D laser scanners, as a service provider the best way we can service our clients is by providing the right results - our clients rely on us to provide them with information that is useful,” said Morgan.

On making the move to acquire the latest 3D laser scanning technology, Morgan had this to say, “If we can do it, anyone can. It was time to take the plunge.”

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