Challenge: A Canadian manufacturer needed an efficient way to quickly, safely, and accurately capture the geometry of heavy equipment for reverse engineering in varying and often difficult conditions.
Solution: Artec Leo, Artec Studio, Geomagic for SOLIDWORKS
Results: Massive time savings – from days to hours, and dramatic reliability improvements following the transition from manual measurement methods to 3D scanning using Artec Leo.
Why Artec? Artec’s devices are designed to be easy-to-use, multi-purpose solutions that truly add value to a richly diverse range of workflows in almost any industry. Nowhere is that versatility better illustrated than in the case of Weldco-Beales Manufacturing, a Canadian company that designs and creates attachments for different types of heavy machinery.
3D scanning heavy equipment
Weldco-Beales has been in business since 1945, making it a decades-old enterprise that has been around for the better part of a century. Any organization that wants to survive that long and thrive needs to continuously adhere to a culture of excellence, constantly finding innovative ways to overcome challenges. This isn’t a fact lost on Mike Aceto, the company’s Senior Engineering Manager.
“People look at our work and think, these people don’t skip steps or cut corners. We’re not afraid to embrace new technology and our customers see that happening right in front of them,” Aceto explained.
The Canadian manufacturer provides everything from truck-mounted cranes, long-reach booms for excavators, to customized solutions for specialized use cases. Clients come to them with all kinds of requirements, and the Weldco team is expected to meet those expectations. A near century-old reputation depends on it.
Finding a solution
The team was therefore on the lookout for a professional 3D scanning solution. Weldco-Beales has customers from a variety of industries – construction, forestry, mining, scrap recycling, road maintenance, and more. For the Weldco-Beales team to do their job, they routinely had to take measurements in difficult conditions.
Equipment is often located outdoors, on uneven terrain, confined spaces, or in places high enough that safety becomes a concern. In such use cases, speed and portability are crucial, but the demands on accuracy are no less stringent. The old methods relying on manual measurements, and improvisation with different odds and ends simply weren’t cutting it.
Weldco-Beales turned to Javelin Technologies, A TriMech Company. Javelin is a gold-certified Artec partner in the region, and a company that the Weldco-Beales team had worked with for a number of years. Wayne Keller, the Javelin Client Executive that worked with them, had this to say about the partnership:
“Our relationship with Mike and Weldco-Beales is a great example of how we like to work with clients. We have gotten to know each other over a number of years and Javelin has become a trusted advisor and technology partner.”
The Javelin team analyzed Weldco-Beales’ needs for 3D scanning heavy equipment and made some recommendations, offering them a range of options. Artec Leo checked all the boxes.
Leo is a one-of-a-kind, AI-driven 3D scanner that offers a truly mobile scanning experience. It has real time 3D model projection on an inbuilt touch screen, processing while you scan. And with intelligent features like background and base removal, the scanning experience is about as complex as shooting an ordinary video. Leo has a long-lasting inbuilt battery, wireless connectivity that enables you to stream video to a second device, and scan-to-cloud capabilities that make it possible to capture an object in one place and process it in another. It was a solution that would reap immediate rewards for the Weldco-Beales team.
“A 3D scanner is a big purchase that brings immediate value and quick return on investment. We saw the impact on our business right away. And we chose to purchase from Javelin because we value the ongoing relationship we have with them,” Aceto explained. “I especially like that they offer more than one type of technology solution and can help in various ways.”
“Having the screen built in and not having to carry a separate laptop is a huge advantage.”
With Leo’s 3D point accuracy of up to 0.1 mm, 3D resolution of up to 0.2 mm, and data acquisition speeds of up to 35 million points per second, the Weldco-Beales team would have their accuracy, portability, speed, and safety needs well covered. It made working in tricky places that much easier and safer, and much faster.
“Having the screen built in and not having to carry a separate laptop is a huge advantage for us,” Aceto confirmed. “And not having to worry about a power cord means there’s no tripping hazard.”
In mere minutes
The benefits have been transformational. Aceto related how his team worked with tape measure, string, cardboard templates, and photographs to analyze and model the area where a customer wanted to custom-fit new buckets onto a newly modified machine.
With Artec Leo, the team can capture in a matter of minutes what might have taken half a day in the past.
It was a process that demanded hours of planning and preparation before even making a first attempt. To create the final 3D models, they had to manually enter the data they’d manually measured into SOLIDWORKS. With Artec Leo, the team can capture in a matter of minutes what might have taken half a day in the past.
“Being able to work fast while still ensuring accuracy and quality has a huge impact,” Aceto said.
For this backhoe that needed a side boom installed, Aceto estimates that it would have taken, at the very least, a few days to complete the project. Instead, scanning took roughly an hour, and processing – about eight.
With Artec Leo, there is little need to strategize on how to approach the measurement of an object, and no trial and error experimentation. Leo’s geometry and texture-based data processing algorithms mean there is also no need to set up targets before scanning. Crucially for reverse engineering projects such as these, the scanner picks up changes in a piece of equipment’s geometry – bends, wear, and breaks – that occur with use and aren’t reflected in the original CAD models.
Full support and flexibility
There is also the flexibility that Artec products offer a company like Weldco-Beales with three manufacturing facilities in different provinces in Canada. Scanning can be done in one location, the scan data can be shared on Artec Cloud, a platform with collaboration features, and used to develop a CAD model at another location. The manufacturing can be completed at yet a third location.
Artec products are all designed with convenience and ease of use in mind. However, the Javelin team still provided extensive support throughout the process.
“When we saw a fit for an Artec 3D scanning system, we educated and guided the WBM team, from initial demos right through to ensuring they were confidently using the technology,” said Keller.
The training and support provided by Artec also pleased Aceto.
“As with any new technology you adopt, there’s a learning curve,” Aceto said. “Javelin has been awesome. Cory [Green] was dedicated to making sure we were all well-trained, even if it took a bit of extra time, and I can bounce questions off him anytime.”
Asked what the future holds for Weldco-Beales Manufacturing, Mike Aceto explained that their intention is to continue to progress. The company is considering Artec Ray II, a longer range scanner for very large objects, and acquiring two more Leos.