“We need to shut down the production line.” It’s a horrifying, angst-inducing phrase for the ears of any Production Manager, Operations Manager, or General Manager. “Why?” is unquestionably the very next word spoken.

Production managers do their best to minimize shutdowns, in frequency and duration. They carefully plan and schedule maintenance and improvements. In times past, major improvements required multiple shutdowns. At least one shutdown to gather information about the production line, to make sure the design engineers have the correct measurements and specifications for every piece of machinery in the line. And at least one shutdown for change-over.

That’s why savvy companies and their engineers choose laser scanning and resulting computer modeling to eliminate all the preliminary shutdowns for measurement. Here are two views of the CAD model produced for an industrial packaging line. The complete model and all measurements of the line were built without any interruptions in processing. The savings are enormous for such results. 

CAD models of processing line created from scan data.

CAD models of processing line created from scan data.

Alternate View of CAD Model from Scan Data

And below is a scanning-based CAD model of a continuous processing line. 

CAD Model of Processing Line.

The most modern laser scanning equipment uses lasers that are barely visible to the naked eye, and they are less dangerous than a teacher’s laser pointer. (Class 1 and sometimes Class 2 lasers, the two safest categories, are predominant in most brands.) So no one needs to leave the area when the scanners are operating. Most of the time, people don’t notice the beams at all.

And the line need not be slowed or stopped for the laser measurements. In addition to the accurate measurements, the laser scanners can detect – in post processing – equipment that is vibrating. And the advantages of scanning extend to both continuous and discrete processing lines.

Another form of processing line is electric generation. Electricity flows continuously from the generators and shutdowns are absurdly expensive. Revenue loss for a 350 Megawatt generating unit can exceed $75,000 per hour. Unplanned and unexpectedly long down times are one of the reasons Production Managers keep antacid tablets in a half-gallon jug. In one case, in a major upgrade at an electric generating unit, a single, manual-measurement error caused weeks of delay when two very large pipes that were supposed to meet were misaligned by 18”. Laser scanning to confirm measurements would have eliminated this delay completely.

Some things aren’t “production lines” in the usual meaning of the term, nevertheless, down time is not allowed. A hospital emergency room doesn’t need a sign in the window, “Open 24 Hours.” Yet emergency rooms must, from time to time, be re-modeled or improved. But in this case, it’s a combination of the speed of the equipment and the sophistication of the technical people using the scanners that eliminates any “outages” of the Emergency Room for measurements. Method here is as important as the equipment.

Do you have questions about how this technology might be applied to your business or area of study? Give us a call or drop a line.

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