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Scanning technologies: A useful tool for thyssenkrupp Uhde to enhance service offerings, adding value to the customer experience.

thyssenkrupp Uhde combines available laser/thermal scanning technologies with its renowned plant engineering know-how to enhance service offerings. “We have over a decade of experience in laser/scanning technology,” says Ranka Sofijanic, Manager Plant Layout and Piping – Uhde.

“The professional use of this technology as a tool delivers countless value adding benefits for our customers. It assists us in achieving greater preparation accuracy for revamp jobs and improving customer support in maintenance tasks. It also helps to gain a better understanding about the measurements of unknown areas and to give customers insight about plant conditions.”

Scanning technology is a highly efficient solution for coke oven plants, providing a better understanding of the condition of coke oven chamber walls. This scanning technology is a joint development of tkIS Uhde Dortmund, OU CP, Department Service (former tkUES) and tk Transrapid Gmbh, München, TechCenter Control Technologies/Analytics & AI.

This application makes use of a camera mounted on a swivel mechanism to effectively detect refractory anomalies. Using the camera from the outer oven front, wall cracks can be reliably detected even in chambers with lengths of 10 to 20m. Using software for Cloud-data-connection/transfer and KI-data evaluation, the diverse spectral ranges provided by the camera are combined to produce a meaningful final picture that facilitates the evaluation of anomalies.

This service allows for effective, fast and cost-reduced planning of coke oven battery repairs corresponding to an extension of oven service lifetime. “We can accurately detect refractory anomalies of literally hundreds of oven walls in one coking plant in the short-term, thus significantly reducing the customer’s service time and costs,” affirms Ranka

According to Ranka, the first Coke plant application was for a South African client in 2019 by the Uhde office in South Africa. It has been further developed and the technology test was conducted at a coke plant in Salzgitter, Germany, in 2021. “Based on R&D-activities made in OU CP in 2020/21, we applied for a German patent in Q3 2021. The new service-process/equipment for coke oven plants was presented to customers during a Cokemaking Conference, EuroCoke, in Amsterdam in October 2021. The design of the swivel mechanism is in progress and will be completed in Q3 2022. After finalization, the new set-up, consisting of a spectral camera and swivel mechanism, will be tested again at the Salzgitter coke plant or at HKM/Duisburg late 2022/early 2023.”

Laser scanning forms part of thyssenkrupp Uhde’s EPC offering for conversions, revamp and modification projects. “We use laser scanning for indoor applications and where higher accuracy is required,” explains Ranka. “Six years ago, we started using drones with laser and thermal scanning for external applications where an accuracy of within one centimetre is acceptable.” The use of drones enhances thyssenkrupp Uhde’s scanning technology services, benefitting (internal) processes and ultimately customers.

Equipped with cameras and sensors, drones can be flown immediately on to a site, providing up-close imagery. They provide easy, safe access to difficult-to-reach areas and hazardous environments. This makes them a valuable tool for outdoor monitoring, bigger inspection jobs and scanning of existing plant environments. Drone-usage is ideal for revamp jobs directly on the scanned site. They can also be used on a nearby new plant under construction where a piping system needs to be connected that leads through the scanned site. The scanning results are transferred into the E3D (Plant 3D modelling software from Aviva) and can serve as a perfect base for any planning of work at a specific site.

Armed with in-depth knowledge of the plant layouts, thyssenkrupp Uhde experts know which areas have to be scanned with which sensors. “This enables us to accurately guide the drones to important areas while taking into account any safety issues,” notes Ranka. Recent examples include drone-usage for engineering, for a build and condition assessment of towers up to 80m height as well as for a build and work planning in congested refinery environments.

Our colleague in Germany, Tobias, highlights recent projects for engineering and work preparations at the construction site of a polyol complex and the drone-based thermal scanning of coke ovens to identify necessary repairs.

Both Ranka and Tobias confirm “We have implemented drones as a standard offering in our digital products portfolio,”To further assist customers, we also offer drone applications as a service product.”

“Through our ability to professionally apply laser/thermal scanning technologies combined with drone applications, we have extended our service portfolio, thereby enhancing our long-term customer relationships and opening up new business opportunities,” concludes Ranka.

thyssenkrupp Uhde has successfully completed numerous scanning projects in Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America. We have successfully applied laser scanning technology on numerous brownfield projects for the petrochemical, energy and mining industry on the African continent.

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