Piney Dam 3D Laser Scanning

A Glance at Reality IMT’s Piney Dam 3D laser scanning project.

Project Information

The Piney Reservoir is located in Clarion County, PA and is owned and operated by Reliant Energy Mid-Atlantic Power Holdings, LLC. The primary purpose of the Piney Dam, is hydroelectric power generation as It covers 690 acres within a 14 mile stretch of the Clarion River and is managed by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission for public fishing and boating activities.

Requirements for an as-built 3d laser scanning

Perform an as-built laser scanning survey with the following requirements:

  • Minimum measurement accuracy of + or – 1/2 inch.
  • Scan an estimated area of 1.2 acres.
  • Model an estimated area of 1.2 acres in 3d.
  • Perform geometric analysis to locate irregularities in the structure

Target data acquisition and modeling:

  • Main reservoir structure (above water)
  • Gates
  • Bridge
  • Railing
  • Pumps and piping


  • 3D As-Built delivered in dwg format.
  • Pointcloud registration report delivered in pdf.
  • Geometric analysis with heat diagrams delivered in pdf.

Filed Survey

Once the area of interest has been determined by the client, the field engineer decides on the location (station) of where to start the laser survey from. For the Piney reservoir, 22 stations were taken as shown in the figure below. Each circle represents a scan station.

At each scan station, the laser scanner emits a laser beam from a rotating mirror out towards the area being scanned. Then the unit distributes the laser beam at a vertical range of 300° and a horizontal range of 360°. The laser beam is then reflected back to the scanner by objects in its path. The distance to the objects defining an area is calculated as well as their relative vertical and horizontal angles. The data is captured and transmitted via WLAN for calculating precise 3D renderings. A Faro x-330 laser scanner was used on this project

Pointcloud Processing

Once back at the office, all stations are registered (pointcloud data combined) into one environment to create a digital representation of the entire reservoir in 3D and the result is a single pointcloud file that is large in size, in fact it was >20GB. The file is then imported into Revit where surfaces are created from the pointcloud and a 3D vector file (BIM) is created.

Piney Dam 3d laser scanning analysis

The final step was to identify areas of depression (possible erosion) within the reservoir’s surface. This was done by importing the 3D BIM model and the pointcloud data into a software that can compare straight or generic surfaces with real-life (as-is) surfaces and measure the difference (+ or –) between the two. Once the analysis is complete, a heat diagram is generated showing areas that require attention or have high delta as shown in the diagram below.

For more info on 3D laser scanning services, click here

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