The groundbreaking benefits of scanning technology, 185 feet over San Francisco Bay  

Bridges, as vital infrastructure connecting communities and facilitating economic growth, require regular maintenance and occasional replacement of worn-out components. Art Yukhin, President & CEO of Artec 3D, shares how 3D scanning can make accurately measuring and obtaining data from ageing bridge structures in challenging conditions, possible.  

The Richmond–San Rafael Bridge, an essential connection across the San Francisco Bay, after decades of exposure, required the replacement of corroded and rusty panels. The task was complicated by the absence of reliable measurements or drawings for the panels and demanded precise measurements for replacement panels located 185 feet above San Francisco Bay. However, a ground-breaking solution emerged in the form of advanced 3D scanning technology.  

Officially named the John F. McCarthy Memorial Bridge, it was constructed in the 1950s with its location exposing it to corrosive elements including saltwater, heat, wind, and vehicle exhaust. Over time, a specific section of the bridge became corroded and rusty, necessitating its replacement. However, there were no reliable drawings or measurements of the panels – accurate information from these panels needed to be obtained to make this possible.  

To keep the bridge safe and functional, and the connection open for an estimated 80,000 drivers daily, the project required a solution that could overcome the height of the bridge, the constant traffic flow, and the need for minimal disruption. Artec Leo, the only wireless 3D scanner on the market, is an AI-powered, self-contained device with an inbuilt touchscreen – this fast and easy solution provided the perfect combination of portability and scanning capabilities for this demanding task. Its ease of use and ability to capture intricate surface details made it the ideal tool for accurately measuring the panels.  

Streamlined approach 

The scanner’s design eliminated the need for cumbersome computers, cables, or extra personnel, enabling the team to focus solely on the scanning process, capturing all the necessary measurements and information without the need for additional equipment. This streamlined approach ensured quick scanning and minimal disruption to traffic while ensuring the accuracy and reliability of the captured data.  

Efficiency and accuracy 

Working against time constraints and strict environmental regulations to avoid disturbing whales during mating season, the team swiftly developed an efficient workflow. Each panel was scanned from all directions, with the team honing their technique to complete each side in under ten minutes. Marcio Adamy of Indicate Technologies Inc, embarked on multiple trips to the bridge, ensuring that the multiple sides and parts of each panel were precisely captured. Capturing the right holes in the right locations was also crucial to the project’s success, and in such cases, a 3D scanner became the only solution to capture the intricate details accurately.  

The success of the project extended beyond accurate measurements and efficient scanning. By adopting this advanced technology, the team saved significant time and costs, eliminating the need for manual measurements and hand drawings, extending scanning to the data processing stage. The scans now also serve as invaluable resources for future engineers, builders, architects, and inspectors. The data, down to 0.1mm accuracy, ensures the preservation of the bridge’s history and facilitates informed decision-making for generations to come.  

The captured files were uploaded and processed using Artec Studio, undergoing global registration and subsequent mesh conversion. The entire workflow, from scanning to post-processing, could be completed within a day in some instances, ensuring efficiency and accuracy throughout the project.  

Revolutionizing maintenance
With Artec Leo, the production of new panels expedited reducing labor costs. The estimated time savings of 75 to 90 percent demonstrate the efficiency and effectiveness of using advanced 3D scanning technology for bridge maintenance projects.  

Eight months later, all eight panels had been fabricated and installed.
The transformative power of advanced 3D scanning technology, specifically in the construction industry where large-scale projects require detail and often have outdated drawings and information, is undeniable. As the field continues to evolve, the possibilities for its application in various cases within construction are endless. The success of this endeavor highlights the potential for accurate measurements, creative problem-solving, and efficient project execution through the integration of cutting-edge technology.  

As technology continues to advance, it is crucial to embrace and leverage cutting-edge tools like Artec Leo to overcome the limitations of traditional methods. By adopting innovative solutions, we can ensure the efficient maintenance and longevity of essential structures, while preserving our historical heritage for future generations. The successful completion of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge project serves as a testament to the power of 3D scanning technology and its potential to revolutionize infrastructure maintenance across the globe.  

For a list of the sources used in this article, please contact the editor. 

A global leader in 3D scanning technology, Artec 3D scanners and software are made in Luxembourg and designed to revolutionize workflow across a wide range of industries. Artec Leo is the only wireless and fully standalone professional 3D scanner designed to make scanning as easy and effortless as possible. It’s the ultimate all-in-one 3D scanning solution for fast, accurate, and high-quality data capture.