The Volumetric Laser Scanner (VM3D) is a non-contact, volume measuring instrument designed for granular solid materials. Based on pulsed laser technology, the VM3D embodies speed and accuracy in a single, easy to use and install product. The characteristic narrow beam divergence of the laser coupled with a precise mechanical scanning system that covers a complete hemisphere permits direct aiming to the target surface and building a tight point cloud from which to derive a surface map. Because the VM3D system computes the shape and volume of stockpiles from a point cloud it is possible to merge the data from any number of scanners to obtain the shape and volume of even the largest stockpiles. Whether measuring a few meters into the confined space of a small silo, or to the bottom of the largest warehouse, the VM3D with its long range, wide angular sweep and ability to function as a scanner network is the plug-and-play solution to stockpile volume measurement.
The VM3D uses a high speed laser pulse to measure distance. The laser light is emitted towards the surface and some of it reflects back to the instrument where it is detected by a sensitive optical receiver. The time it takes for the light to travel to the surface and back to the instrument is directly proportional to the distance between the instrument and the surface. Using a time-of-flight calculation the VM3D accurately measures the distance to the target surface using the equation below:
Distance = speed of light x time-of-flight
Level = height - distance
The unique characteristics of laser light give the VM3D significant performance advantages over other technologies in terms of resolution and immunity from parasite reflections. The narrow, long range beam can measure both near and far distances and obstacles can be measured around by placing multiple scanners at different vantage points.
The VM3D transmits the raw point cloud over the 3G cell phone network to the ABB data center where the point cloud is intelligently analyzed to produce a picture of the stockpile and an estimate of the volume and mass it contains. The analysis makes use of the building blueprints to determine the depth of the stockpile and avoid having to empty the building to baseline the scanner system. This analysis also eliminates artifacts like machinery and visible building structures from the volume estimate even if they move from scan to scan.
The complete data transmission chain uses highly secure encrypted data communications, and ABB will enter into a legally binding agreement with the end user not to reveal any of their confidential inventory information.