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Lasers, Salmon, Trout, & Engineering

August 21, 2018 | Vaughn J. Mantor

In Montana, along the Missouri river where Lewis & Clark followed Thomas Jefferson’s instructions to cross the continent, a fish hatchery wants to expand for several reasons: the existing water intakes for the hatchery are increasingly unreliable; and the demand for certain species of fish is much higher.

Expansion of the hatchery will require more water.

Fortunately, a hydroelectric dam of 185 Megawatts is about two miles away. The water to be piped to the hatchery must meet certain specifications, among which is cleanliness, therefore the water will be taken from the dam’s penstocks, that is at a point before the water goes to the turbines.

The situation calls for an engineering feasibility study to assess the various, inter-related, cost factors:

  1. high cost of losing all the fish should the water supply fail

  2. size of the expansion

  3. volume of water needed

  4. cost of construction at the hatchery

  5. cost of water

  6. cost of connections and construction at the dam

  7. cost of piping

  8. cost of installing the piping

  9. cost of a right-of-way, et al.

Our client, the engineering firm employed to assess feasibility, decided to use Verify 3D to take laser scans of the hatchery and the dam.

A modern fish hatchery is not a simple thing….

Neither is a Hydroelectric Dam

At the hatchery, small differences in the conditions in which the fish hatch can kill them all. Many variables must be measured and adjusted continually. It’s a complicated job to increase the capacity of the hatchery and also avoid unduly interfering with normal production. A glance at the above hatchery images shows the potential for serious cost overruns if any measurements are wrong or missing. When one includes the complexity of the hydroelectric dam and making connections there, the difficulty of the feasibility study is nearly doubled.

According to the professional engineer in charge of the work, “[laser scanning with Verify 3D] saved us three weeks on the project.” He was referring to cutting three weeks from the project plan. The plan anticipated a long time to collect measurements by other means and several return visits to the site. It took Verify 3D just one day to collect complete measurements, accurate to 3-4mm, in both the hatchery and the dam. It’s too soon to evaluate other savings that may be achieved by the use of laser scanning on this project. When more results are in, we’ll post an addendum to this report.

If you’d like a personal explanation or demonstration of the ways laser scanning can help you, give us a call (406-780-0798) or click “here

If you’d like to speak with one of our clients about our work, please click “here

Because we have fifteen years experience in the technology, Verify 3D knows the most appropriate equipment to use on each project and how to use it for the best benefit to our clients. For this project we used a Leica P-20 laser scanner and Leica Cyclone software for registration. Per contract, Verify 3D delivered both a point cloud, in Autodesk Recap format, and a set of TruView files to our client.

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