Ships come in a variety of types and sizes, and they cater to mankind’s different transport needs, whether for ferrying passengers or moving cargo. Within the cargo category, merchant vessels are further subdivided depending on the type of cargo on board (e.g. oil, bulk, container, car carrier).
In particular, for companies that own oil tankers for liquefied natural gas or liquid cargo, an accurate measurement of their vessel’s cargo hold is vital for operations. One such South Korean company that provides this measurement service very swiftly for ship owners is Intertek Testing Services Korea Ltd. (Intertek).
Intertek is a Total Quality Assurance provider with a 130-year history, and its expertise is backed by Thomas Edison’s Electrical Testing Laboratories. The company provides a range of quality assurance, testing, inspection, and certification services to industries worldwide, including businesses dealing in Chemicals, Construction & Engineering, Energy & Commodities, Food & Healthcare, Government & Trade, Products & Retail, and Transportation.
Intertek started its marine surveying business in 1855, and the Marine Inspection division’s tank measurement team is the one responsible for measuring oil tankers’ cargo hold volumes. The company primarily worked on tankers that were designed to carry liquefied ammonia, LPG, LNG, and ethylene.
As cargo volumes are directly related to the freight income that each trip would fetch, ship owners must have confidence in the amount of cargo they can transport. Any inaccuracies may result in unexpected revenue losses for the ship owner, or worse yet, misunderstandings and conflicts with their customers.
The team at Intertek used to rely on total stations to measure a ship’s cargo hold. However, it takes long time to measure details and hard to move the device. We had been looking for the proper device that could help to address those problems.
Evidently, Intertek required an alternative solution that could meet these new measurement needs. In their search for a suitable laser scanner, the team came across the FARO Focus3D X 330 at KORMARINE, the country’s largest shipbuilding and marine industry exhibition.
Capable of obtaining up to 976,000 points per second, the FARO Focus3D effortlessly scans an entire environment and captures objects up to 330 m away, regardless of the lighting conditions. The laser scanner provides realistic and very detailed scan results, enabling users to manipulate the data in numerous ways. Equipped with an integrated GPS receiver, the FARO Focus3D also allows users to easily check on the relative positions of individual scans during post-processing.
During the procurement research phase, Intertek also considered a competing brand’s laser scanners and total solutions, but the weight and size of that option was easily twice of the Focus3D. As the team frequently travelled to work sites, they could not afford to deal with large and heavy equipment. The Focus3D proved to be a perfect match as it was small, lightweight, highly portable, and competitively priced.
Scanning the interior of a tanker’s cargo hold with the FARO Focus3D X 330.
Since investing in the Focus3D, Intertek has been able to overcome several difficulties that it used to face in the past. For instance, with older tankers, customers often have no design drawings of the ship. With the Focus3D, the team can accurately measure any part of the ship quickly and easily, capturing even rounded and curved parts that the total station had difficulty with. Now, Intertek uses the Focus3D in the shipyards, mainly for new shipbuilding projects and for volumetric measurements of cargo holds on existing vessels.
The Focus3D easily captures precise measurements of any space, even areas with inaccessible heights and tight spots.
In addition, Intertek uses the Focus3D to help ship owners measure the volume of dry bulk cargo — including coal, fertilizer, and salt — that is stored on an open yard. The team used to use total stations or GPS surveying to gauge the amount. However, it is difficult to obtain an accurate measurement with that method. With the laser scanner, however, the exact volume can be calculated on the computer, based on the precise data points collected.
A measurement job that used to require four men a full hour to complete can now be performed by just two team members in 20 minutes. The reduced labor costs and time-savings has translated into lower overall project costs for Intertek.
“What this means is that we are better able to offer our customers competitive prices for our services, giving us an edge over other providers,” shared Mr. Kugbo Shim, Section Chief of the Tank Measurement Team, which frequently use the Focus3D. He explained, “Typically, we use the laser scanner for about two weeks every month. Once we mount the device on a tripod, we can literally bring it anywhere to take measurements. There are nearly no constraints on where it can work!”
Using the Focus3D, Intertek can measure exact volumes of dry bulk cargo that is scattered on an open yard.
Apart from offering quicker and more accurate measurements, the Focus3D also brought about a big change in the way Intertek communicates with ship owners at project briefings. The Intertek team now presents scanned data as 3D images, allowing customers to visualize their ship’s cargo hold more easily. Mr. Shim added, “When we show them 3D scan data of the cargo hold, the ship owners usually go ‘wow’. The point cloud data is so precise that they cannot believe their eyes.”
Commenting on other positive changes that Intertek experienced with the Focus3D, Mr. Shim said, “There’s another significant point to mention, which is that we now have the capabilities to provide our customers with reverse engineering services. This is especially useful when we need to create drawings of older vessels.”
Mr. Shim recalled that the team had received similar requests from customers before, but the team had to decline because they were not able to obtain measurements or offer any guarantee on accuracy levels. With the Focus3D, reverse engineering is now a new business area that Intertek can further develop.
“In fact, we are receiving more and more such enquiries,” said Mr. Shim. “Word travels, and companies are intrigued by how we can recreate drawings of a vessel from nothing.”
3D visualization of a ship’s cargo hold, generated from the data collected by the Focus3D.
Intertek is a Total Quality Assurance provider with a 130-year history, and its expertise is backed by Thomas Edison’s Electrical Testing Laboratories. The world’s largest testing and inspection company, Intertek provides testing, inspection, and comprehensive safety solutions. With laboratories and offices in more than 100 countries and over 1,000 locations, Intertek employs more than 600 staff members, providing services in a variety of areas.
Since its establishment in 1969, Intertek Korea has been striving to meet the needs of customers across industries, including consumer goods, electronics, and petrochemical. In 2010, Intertek Korea opened the largest textile and chemical laboratory to provide faster and more efficient testing and inspection services to domestic customers.
Schedule a Demo Today
Understand the capability and benefits of FARO’s technology via an on-site or over-the-web demonstration.