Specialist Services

A E R I A L    S U R V E Y

In addition to our laser scanning capability, North West Projects has the ability to conduct aerial surveys using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), otherwise known as drones. By deploying a UAV to map a customer site or capture high resolution imagery of a specific structure, we can then import the resulting photographs into a photogrammetry software package to generate a detailed 3D digital model of the real-world environment. The point cloud data and photo textured mesh captured from the aerial survey is then merged with the 3D model generated from a laser scan to create a combined model for use in future design activities.

This representation of the real-world environment can then be imported into the Computer Aided Design (CAD) packages North West Projects typically use in the design process, such as Inventor, AutoCAD, Plant 3D, Navisworks, etc. for the purposes of pipework/cable routing, clash detection, site layout optimisation and much more. This greatly aids the design process through increased efficiency and reduced rework, minimising risk when installing equipment on site and helping the customer to visualise the finished result.

By using enterprise grade commercial drones and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) qualified pilots we negate the need for our customers to spend significant amounts on the hiring of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) equipped planes to conduct similar surveys and achieve comparable results. This allows us to offer a very cost-effective solution to survey previously inaccessible or hazardous areas.

3 D   P R I N T I N G

Here at North West Projects, we have experience in 3D printing and we know how valuable it can be in the design process. 3D printing offers a rapid method of producing design prototypes, which can help streamline the design process to reach the desired solution quicker and more efficiently. This technology can also improve engagement with our clients, as we can showcase our concepts and innovative ideas in a tactile form. Examples of ways we have used 3D printing as a valuable recourse:

Respirator Concept Design for the NHS

During the early stages of the COVID 19 pandemic, we had heard first-hand  from clinicians and the local NHS Trust about the unprecedented issues they were facing. One particular issue was the shortage of oxygen fed Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) masks or hoods.

Elsewhere, engineers in Italy had already developed the concept of adapting a full-face snorkel mask with a 3D printed manifold to hook up to the oxygen lines. However, we quickly found that these existing concepts were inefficient, difficult to mass-produce and were not suited to the type of oxygen fittings used by the NHS in the UK.

With the help of 3D printing, we developed our own simplified design which was faster and easier to print. Using 3D printing allowed us to respond quickly, rapidly improve our prototype designs and test them at the local hospital. The tests were a success and we were gearing up towards increasing production, when fortunately, the number of critical patients did not reach the levels predicted in worst case scenarios.

However 3D printing once again proved to be an extremely useful tool.


Hygiene Hook

 

Another great idea that was produced rapidly due to the ever increasing risk of the COVID 19 pandemic.

Throughout 2020, upholding hygiene standards in the office environment became increasingly more important. To allow us to continue to work safely in the office, one of our engineers developed an innovative hand held device called the ‘Hygiene Hook’. The aim of this concept was to reduce personal contact on shared surfaces, such as door handles, keypads and lift controls. The hook attached to a retractable lanyard on a belt loop and could easily be used to contact these surfaces instead of using a hand.

Prototypes were quickly produced on the 3D printer and a final design was developed within days. Approximately 450 hooks were produced on our 3D printers and around 350 of these were sent to our colleagues within VINCI Energies UK & ROI. These proved to be very popular and extremely useful.

 

 

Twist Lock – Location securing device in a remote handling nuclear application.

 

A great idea brought to life with the help of a 3D printed, multi-part assembly model, which helped prove the concept and its ease of operation on a project. This was fundamental in the progression of the design towards manufacture, in order to facilitate the safe handling and transfer of radioactive material on a commissioning site.

The plant process requirements located 2-off robots in the middle of a highly radioactive cell, to which access is prohibited. The robots required remote installation and needed to be recoverable for maintenance and/or replacement.

A circular array of holes, to which the robot could be secured, and the rods protruding from the plinth, would be left open until a robot was positioned, leaving those features vulnerable to debris and foreign materials.

 

 

Therefore, a feature was required that had sufficient strength to cater for the momentary forces generated by the robot during operations, while also ensuring that it didn’t present an exposed cavity, or thread that would be easily damaged thus making it redundant, as well as being able to be efficiently removed if needed without leaving a hazard that would prevent installation or removal of a robot.

The twist lock design is the main feature on all the containers and was therefore a suitable basis to base the design upon, now resulting in the plants robot arms’ ability to be removed from the cell and replaced without causing any damage or leaving any parts in cell.

 

 

L A S E R    S C A N N I N G    &    V I R T U A L    R E A L I T Y

Here at North West Projects we have extensive knowledge and experience of performing site surveys and asset management tasks on nuclear licensed sites using their SC cleared engineers as well as many other industrial and commercial applications. Due to these tasks being very labor-intensive and time-consuming we purchased a Faro Focus m70 laser scanner to support these site survey and asset management activities for existing and future projects.

The benefits to our clients include:

  • Brings the site to the desktop
  • Full site measuring capability
  • Overlays of 3D models can be implemented onto the as-built point cloud data
  • Creation of 3D models based on the point cloud data
  • Perform quick and accurate scanning of complex infrastructure
  • Site visits kept to a minimum and reduces operator radiological dose
  • Site data is widely available to all stakeholders
  • Creates an as-built scenario for industrial facilities
  • Create floor plans and elevations
  • Creation of high definition photographs
 

The Faro laser scanner utilises the Faro Scene software to post process the point could data. A real advantage of using this software package is the ability to automatically generate Virtual Reality (VR) models, which can then be viewed using HTC Vive headsets.

The benefits to our clients include:

  • Full plant virtual walkthrough with no risk to the operators, i.e. no operator dose uptake
  • Realistic plant scenario
  • Fully immersive experience
  • Operator training
  • Plant hazard identification prior to site visits