Offshore Engineering & Rapid Design Verification with the DotProduct DPI-8 Kit

The DPI-8 Kit from DotProduct is a very powerful tool for accurate, rapid capture of complex 3D spaces in detailed color 3D. Operating entirely off the included Android tablet, this device is a highly impressive handheld solution for user friendly, real-time capture of small-to-medium sized scenes and objects.

For more on DotProduct and the technology that drives the DPI-8 Kit, please visit

The DotProduct DPI-8 Kit in action within a complex mechanical room.

The use cases for this technology span a variety of industries, from industrial asset management, to engineering, construction, architecture, archeology, forensics, and more. In this article we take a look at two specific applications from the maritime world. First, Step Change Engineering highlights the capabilities of the device for existing facility modifications with an offshore engineering project in North Sea. Next, we investigate the use of DPI-8 scanning for 3D documentation and design verification with Synergy Software Design on a U.S. Naval Submarine Base. In both scenarios, time and cost savings are immediately recognized with the speed and reliability of this portable handheld solution.

Offshore Documentation with Step Change Engineering Limited
Headquartered in Aberdeen, Step Change Engineering Limited provides a powerful combination of integrated design, engineering and project management services for repair orders, minor modifications and small brownfield projects for oil and gas clients. They implement the most advanced and targeted technologies to deliver cost-effective, practical solutions for each project.

With a focus on technology that saves both time and cost, the DPI-8 Kit was an obvious choice for Step Change Engineering to integrate into their offshore projects.

In January 2015, Step Change was contracted for a concept project on an offshore facility in the North Sea. The task was to ensure the piping equipment and existing structures would be capable of a proposed modification, to be determined through 3D documentation, clash detection, and analysis of the existing installation.

With offshore projects like this, operators find it both difficult and expensive to mobilize to the sites. The required work often needs to be completed during the shutdown period on the facility. Therefore, once approved for a visit, Step Change Engineering needed to maximize each minute on site and capture all the relevant data in a quick, reliable manner.

With the DPI-8 Kit, they were able to easily carry all required hardware in hand, and be fully set up and operational in a matter of only fifteen minutes. While a permit was required to use the DPI-8 on the facility, it was no more complex than the permit for a digital camera, so there were no issues getting approval.

The area of interest was a very tight, complex space where other forms of 3D capture would have been more onerous in terms of time and cost. However, with the DPI-8 Kit it took just three handheld scans to capture the required information. Using the ability to set the coordinate system and link scans in Phi.3D 2.0, Step Change Engineering was able to produce a complete 3D image in the field with just the three handheld scans.

When asked what the alternative method would have been in this scenario, Neil Hebden, Corporate Design Manager for Step Change Engineering, explained the normal approach for concept studies such as these is to use digital cameras, visual inspection and existing drawings. Generally, the issue with that approach is the time taken and the difficulty to return to the asset should the proposed solution change.

By capturing with the DPI-8 Kit, Step Change created a complete point cloud model of the scene in minutes, and left with confidence that they had captured everything they needed. Back in the office, they were able to bring the scans from Phi.3D 2.0 through Autodesk ReCap and into the relevant AutoCAD files in less than 30 minutes.

Data from the DPI-8 Kit, shown in Autodesk ReCap.

Each minute on an offshore facility is extremely expensive. By utilizing the DPI-8 Kit, Hebden was able to cut survey time in half and accelerate “the feasibility and concept stage of the project by two months.” Immediate savings were felt in terms of time, effort, detail, and ease of use.

Step Change Engineering plans to further implement this technique on other offshore projects, but also translate it into the full span of their work. In any scenario where quick, reliable 3D data is needed for a small-to-medium sized as-built project, the DPI-8 Kit and Phi.3D 2.0 will prove to be a valuable asset.

Scanning U.S. Navy Piers with Synergy Software Design
Synergy Software Design is the provider of custom software solutions for the U.S. Navy, specializing in documentation and analysis of as-built assets. Through 3D visualization and documentation of naval infrastructure, they have assisted in strategic decision-making and saved the Navy billions of dollars on various projects.

Upon hearing of the DPI-8 Kit, Synergy Software immediately saw the value of putting 3D capture directly into the hands of their team on-site. Much of their work for the Navy has revolved around pier infrastructure documentation and coordination, but until the DPI-8 they were forced to document by hand under constrained timeframes in security controlled areas.

With Synergy Software’s implementation of the DPI-8 Kit, they now found that they could produce a full 3D model on-site in one visit, capturing more detail than ever before with limited access to the site.

In April 2014, Synergy Software was contracted to document naval submarine pier infrastructure in Washington State. All doors, hookups, hoses, and other connections needed to be documented into a near 100% confidence model. With limited access to this heavily protected site, the SSD team knew this was a project for the DPI-8 Kit.

In a single visit to the secure site, the Synergy Software team was able to walk up and down the pier with their DPI-8 Kit, collecting several scans of the facility. As seen in the image below, the DotProduct scans produced an impressive amount of detail on the specific equipment systems for each interval of the pier, all in fully measureable, color 3D.

Upon conclusion of their on-site session, the team reviewed all scans with the security officers. There were no issues with the data captured and all parties were impressed with the technology.

On the plane ride home, the SSD team registered all the scans using the free open source program CloudCompare, producing a single model several hundred feet in length. Utilizing this complete data set, the SSD team was able to meet all the confidence requirements and gained “more detail than ever expected out of a handheld device.”

-Michael Russalesi, Synergy Software COO

Mooring hardware captured with the DPI-8 Kit.

With this type of infrastructure documentation, it is very possible for different connections, ports, etc. to be misaligned or overlooked entirely – a mistake that can prove catastrophic when dealing with crucial submarine logistics. By utilizing the DPI-8 Kit on-site, Synergy Software Design ensured that all details were captured in a single comprehensive scan session.

With the convenience and mobility of the DPI-8 Kit, the team at Synergy Software are making an excellent case for the power of handheld 3D for as-built documentation and management of both military facilities and industrial complexes.

In conclusion, both Step Change Engineering and Synergy Software Design have demonstrated the power of 3D documentation for engineering design and review with their use of the DotProduct DPI-8 Kit as a standalone scanning solution. For the right projects, the DPI-8 Kit on its own can provide a wealth of engineering information for a fraction of the time and cost of alternative methods. For more on DotProduct 3D scanning and both of these case studies, we encourage you to attend SPAR 3D in Houston this April and GEO Business 2016 in London this May.


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