This piece of equipment cost several hundred thousands of dollars to manufacture. It’s one of a kind. It’s being shipped 7,100 miles from the fabrication plant. It’s also just one component of a petroleum refinery, but an important one.

You can imagine the resurgent ulcers, gray hairs, loss of profit, and damage to reputation if it were delivered halfway around the world, and it didn’t fit. Of course, someone checked the equipment, but we humans can take only a few manual measurements of complex machinery, and we make mistakes. Some measurements, such as the angles and distances among the flanges in the photograph above are very difficult to measure manually.

A little wizardry with lasers and computers quiets the ulcers, brings color back to gray hair, and restores profit. Here’s how. A laser scan of the equipment takes millions of 3D measurements of the entire surface. Computers then compare the measurements to the computer model and/or drawings of the equipment and highlights any discrepancies. Any errors of fabrication can be caught earlier and corrected with minimal effect on cost and schedule. And when that skid ships to its far-off destination, you can answer confidently, “yes, we did check it.”

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