The Value in Point Clouds – Applications of 3D Point Cloud Data in Marine Surveying

Point clouds are set of data points in three-dimensional coordinate system. Usually point clouds are produced by 3D scanners such as sonars or lasers and they present a surface of a physical asset or object. Point cloud is a very common data format when surveying marine assets, but what can you use it for? In this article we discuss a few applications for point cloud data.


See what lies under water

The structures and topography under water can’t be comprehensively inspected without a sonar survey. With a sonar you get a clear picture despite particles in the water and have an opportunity to inspect the structure or seabed in detail.

Point clouds in raw format are quite difficult to interpret, if you are not used to it. The visualization and coloring of the point cloud makes it easier to understand what the survey data is really telling about the structure and the seabed (more information about the visualization in the previous article “How to Utilize Hydrographic 3D Survey Data”).


Point clouds provide an up-to-date insight into the current situation of the asset

Plans and drawings are valid only in the beginning of the structure’s life cycle. Typically, there are unexpected changes to plans during the construction phase, meaning the original drawings are no longer valid. Therefore, 3D scanning is needed to record the as-built situation.

Up-to-date and valid data of the asset is integral in successful optimization of asset repair planning and budgeting. Processed point clouds from 3D scanning represent the actual situation and they can be updated cost-efficiently with modern 3D scanning equipment. From the processed point cloud you can make CAD-drawings or take measurements for planning and budgeting.


Point clouds are a starting point for modelling

Even though point clouds themselves restore a lot of information and can even be used as Building Information Model (BIM), sometimes you need to process them further to 3D or 2D models. Georeferenced point cloud has all the information you need to create meshes or solids in an accurate scale. GISGRO’s CAD tools enable easy production of CAD models directly from the visualized point cloud, but you can also download the raw data for further processing.

Storing the data as point clouds provides limitless possibilities to modelling, and all the information is still saved in the point cloud. Modelling always simplifies the structure, so you want to keep the opportunities open to produce different models to different purposes.


Easy access to port’s point cloud data

The 3D online platform GISGRO enables using point clouds in marine asset management, with an easy-to-use interface. You can access the data anywhere and anytime, share it to colleagues or clients, and have various possibilities to use it even without modelling. See how it works by ordering demo credentials, we offer it for free!

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Tags: Surveyor
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