An oil company was implementing a nitrogen oxide (NOx) and highly reactive volatile organic compound (HRVOC) reduction program for major gulf coast refinery in Texas. The project involved modifying approximately 17 tightly spaced process heaters and 3 carbon monoxide boilers to comply with Texas Commission for Environmental Quality Clean Air regulations. The project required both the replacement of the older burners and the addition of new fuel gas piping along with the new ultra low NOx burners.
The project faced two major challenges. First, the space under each furnace and around each boiler was extremely tight and congested with support columns, platforms, inlet air ducting, fuel gas piping, instruments and utilities, making it very difficult to access. Second, there was a lack of accurate and current as-built documentation on which to base the design. For these reasons it was determined that traditional surveying techniques and similar technologies would not suffice.
Due to the congestion and proximity of the heaters to one another, the oil company decided to use Quantapoint’s digitizing solutions. According to the Project Manager, “We started looking at how close the quarters were on these heaters and how hot and noisy it would be to send people under the operating furnaces and that’s when we contacted Quantapoint. We selected Quantapoint to perform digitizing of the facility because of their significant refining experience.” Quantapoint used their patented laser scanning technology to rapidly digitize the facility and capture high-resolution dimensional data in the difficult to reach areas around the perimeter of and beneath each process heater and boiler, providing a complete accurate “Digitized Facility”.
Through the use of Quantapoint as-built laser documentation, the oil company was able to complete the project with virtually zero field rework and optimized scheduling from fewer man-hours being required in engineering and reduced outage time during construction. This allowed the construction work on each of the furnaces to be completed three (3) days earlier than scheduled. The advantages were also apparent in the accuracy of fit-up, improved design review capabilities, less physical survey time and improved safety exposure by the engineering team – all of which contributed to a lower project cost.
“Quantapoint allowed us to spend less time in hazardous conditions, less time interfering with the on-going plant operations and more time in the design office. In the end, Quantapoint enabled us to save 75-80% of the time we would have spent in the operating units by using as-built laser documentation instead of relying on traditional data collection methods”, added the project manager.
Overall, design and construction goals were met in record time, with the various benefits achieved being summarized by category below:
- Project came in ahead of schedule and under budget with an excellent safety record.
- Reduced Cost
- The number of construction man-hours decreased as the project was completed in a reduced period of time with essentially no rework.
- Quantapoint data enabled the oil company to utilize 3D Intergraph PDS design tool economically on a retrofit project in process units where no 3D model existed.
- Optimized Schedule
- Significantly reduced the time required for creating, validating and marking up existing drawings by ensuring drawings issued to construction matched what was actually in the field.
- Using a 3D Intergraph PDS design model allowed the oil company to electronically transfer the design to multiple engineering offices for around the clock design progress to comply with a compressed engineering schedule.
- Increased Quality
- Engineered new burner configurations that would better fit into the existing facilities.
- Significantly reduced re-work from cutting and refitting and helped ensure a clash-free design.
- Provided operations the ability to participate in virtual 3D reviews of the new facilities for operability and maintainability before the drawings were issued to construction.
- Improved safety
- Minimized the need to place workers inside a hazardous, congested work area during operations.
In short, according to the project manager, “if you can’t find drawings, and there is limited access to the units, Quantapoint as-built laser documentation saves time and money and becomes an integral necessity to doing the job right. Quantapoint provided the design team daily access to a digitized version of the equipment to be modified on the user’s desktops, without requiring personal protective equipment or permits.”