Portable Scanning Arm Delivers Point Clouds For Duplicate Nuclear Fabrications

To enable the efficient completion of a challenging project in a nuclear plant, leading UK engineering and steel service provider, Watson Towers recently purchased a 3.5 meter capacity version of FARO’s QuantumE ScanArm, fitted with a FAROBlu Laser Line Probe SD and supported by FARO’s CAM2 metrology software. The tasks in question were to very accurately reverse engineer large fabricated parts located inside the nuclear plant, then to produce new parts that were precise duplicates of the originals, and finally to fit the newly manufactured parts.

Established in 1971, Watson Towers Limited began life at Wishaw in North Lanarkshire, Scotland. Following two decades of spectacular growth, in 1991 the company relocated to its current impressive site, the Sun Works in Coatbridge. The rapidly expanding company’s move to the former steel foundry with a rich industrial heritage, gave it the required larger facility and access to an abundance of highly skilled steelworkers and engineers.

Now run by Neil Watson and Fraser Towers, the sons of the company’s founders, Watson Towers continues its commitment to service and quality, and to ensuring that the business maintains and grows its position as a major UK steel plate and engineering service center.

Explaining the recent FARO purchase, Watson Towers General Manager, Iain Hussey said. “Watson Towers boast some of the best technical resources and expertise currently available in the United Kingdom. These company assets allow us to meet all of our customers’ steel and engineering requirements. Although, having won a major contract from a client involved in the demanding nuclear power industry, we realized that we needed to invest in an advanced laser scanning system. Such a system would allow us to perform in-depth, non-contact scans of the large elements that needed to be reverse engineered. The captured point-clouds could then be used to create the CAD models we needed for the duplicate fabrications.”

“Having considered several alternative laser scanning devices we concluded that the QuantumE FaroArm fitted with the FAROBlu Laser Line Probe SD was the ideal system for our needs. When compared to the alternatives, we concluded that the QuantumE ScanArm provided an accurate, reliable and comprehensive solution for our requirements. We are impressed by the system’s high-speed point cloud capture and superior resolution. We also realized that, not only would the QuantumE be perfect for the precise scanning of the components on the nuclear power site; the extremely flexible device would also prove extremely useful for many of our other on-site and off-site, scanning and measuring tasks.”


“After the FARO QuantumE and CAM2 software were delivered, our operators were quickly trained on the new hardware and software. Although the use of our ScanArm on the nuclear power site was the first time we had used it on such a major project, due to its ease of use, the required extremely accurate laser scans were made without a problem.”

“The point-clouds captured by the QuantumScanArm and the use of CAM2 software enabled extremely accurate CAD models to be generated and exact replicas of each of the scanned elements to be efficiently manufactured. When delivered to the site, as the new fabrications perfectly matched the originals, no alterations or adjustments needed to be made and they were quickly installed without a single problem. On its first major project, the QuantumE and our new FARO software proved their advanced capabilities and resulted in considerable time savings and the completion of a first-class job”.

Although originally purchased for the nuclear industry reverse engineering application and to perform additional accurate on-site scanning tasks at other customers’ premises, due to its portability and robust nature, the QuantumScanArm is now also regularly employed on a wide range of diverse applications across the vast Watson Towers facility. For instance, it is used as an advanced quality control aid on the company’s recently installed FICEP Gemini, large plate CNC drilling, milling and thermal cutting system. Purchased to help keep-pace with increasing demand for Watson Towers’ output, the impressive, automatic gantry machine is able to undertake the thermal cutting, marking, milling, drilling, tapping and bevelling of light to heavy plate with great accuracy.

Iain Hussey added. “In addition to the Nuclear industry, Watson Towers serves a wide range of other equally demanding industries, including the Oil and Gas and Marine sectors. To enable us to consistently win contracts and to satisfy the exacting needs of our customers we pursue twin policies of providing cost-effective quotes and of applying the most stringent quality control standards.”

“We employ skilled personnel, with expertise across a wide range of disciplines, that have access to some of the most advanced plant in the UK. These factors mean that we work very efficiently and ensure that we remain extremely competitive. Also, to guarantee the quality of our output, we administer a strict inspection regime and guarantee traceability from steel mills to the end user.”

“By employing our new QuantumScanArm on, for instance our new FICEP Gemini thermal cutting machine, we are able to ensure its consistently high productivity and the premium quality of its work. The speed, ease of use and high-precision of our QuantumE FaroArm fitted with a FAROBlu Laser Line Probe means that it has quickly made a significant contribution to both our operational efficiency and to our important inspection functions.”

“Having researched the QuantumE ScanArm and had a successful demonstration before we purchased it, we anticipated a rapid return on our investment. Although, after finding multiple other areas where the Quantumcan speed-up our processes and further reduce our already low scrap levels, we now expect an even quicker ROI.”

For more information: www.faro.com