Neptune Global Design is a Miami-based Marine Engineering, 3D Scanning, Reverse Engineering and Naval Architecture firm led by Tom Thompson, President and CEO. Thompson is a six year veteran of the marine industry, and has used 3D scanning for this and other purposes for more than a decade. In the maritime sector, Neptune Global is a partner to vessel owners, a partner in helping them to manage and mitigate the inherent risks and costs associated with maintaining and repairing a fleet of vessels. Thompson uses FA- RO’s 3D Laser Scanning technology to accurately profile a vessel. “My typical scanning equipment is a FARO Focus3D X130 with at least ten spherical targets,” said Thompson. “The advertised accuracy of that specific scanner at the distances that I work with is +2mm. That tolerance varies based on range but is also quite generous, as it’s truly around +1mm.”
Staten Island Ferry System
The Staten Island Ferry System is an iconic part of New York City, and like the Big Apple itself it has a long and colorful history. The direct link reaches back to the early 19th century and the Richmond Turnpike Company, which received the right to run a ferry to New York. It was in 1817 that the company began to run the first mechanically powered ferry between New York and Staten Island, the steam-powered Nautilus, commanded by Captain John De Forest, the brother-in-law of a young man named Cornelius Vanderbilt, according to www.siferry.com.
Today the Staten Island Ferry System includes a fleet of nine vessels and trans- ports 22 million people per year (70,000 passengers per day, not including week- ends) making about 37,180 trips annually between St. George on Staten Island and Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan. The New York City NYC DOT operates and maintains the nine vessel fleet.
Knowledge is (Negotiating) Power
As anyone in the maritime sector can attest, careful management of a fleet’s maintenance and repair regimen is a cornerstone to profitable operations. Simply put, mismanagement of maintenance can sink the corporate ship, literally. So when NYC DOT was taking its ferries into dry dock, it was finding a discrepancy between what it and the shipyard believed was necessary for maintenance, specifically regarding the amount of coatings needed for specific projects.
“There was a massive price difference in regards to coatings needed premised on the square footage specified by the shipyard (in the General Arrangement drawing) and what NYC DOT thinks the quantity of coatings should be,” said Thompson. “In step, there was a big price difference in regards to coatings cost.” Thompson’s mission was clear: Use his FARO Focus3D X130 to deliver new, accurate ‘as built’ GA’s for four vessels in the Staten Island Ferry fleet Senator John J. Marchi, Samuel I. Newhouse, Andrew J. Barberi & John No- bel – allowing the NYC DOT to better estimate and negotiate maintenance and repair costs with the shipyard.
He achieved the mission, spending time while the vessels were in dry dock
in Norfolk, Va., and at the owner’s maintenance facility in New York, scanning the underwater hull, the superstructures and the interiors. “Pre-scanned, reverse engineered gives a full, updated and ac- curate model regarding the amount of square footage that actually needs to be covered,” Thompson succinctly summa- rized While the savings for this particu- lar project were not available from the NYC DOT, Thompson said that it is not uncommon for savings to quickly enter the ‘millions of dollars’ range.
Long Experience with 3D Scanning
Until 3D laser scanning came along, the traditional tools to ‘accurately’ mea- sure a vessel were the GA drawings and a tape measure. “As we know, the GA drawings are usually close, but they’re not quite accurate,” said Thompson.
He has been using the FARO System for about 12 years, “ever since it was a baby.” In comparing the FARO 3D scanning solutions to other systems, Thompson said that FARO was a pioneer of sorts, the first to provide a battery powered system that offers significant advantages when continuously moving equipment through tight maritime spaces.
“Up until lately – lately being until the last couple of years – Faro was the only battery powered system out there,” said Thompson. “With other systems, as you tried to drag it around, you had to have a constant power source, you had to have a laptop tied to it; the FARO system is battery powered with an internal SD card, so it was more portable.”
But compact and portable were not the only factors that drew Thompson to the system. “It also, until the last several
years, was the only one that was avail- able with color,” he said. “That might not seem like much of a value add, but as it turns out when you start dealing with multiple piping arrangements in an engine room, for example, it makes your life a lot easier as you’re sitting and trying to discern between different pipes and different systems, particularly when you’re trying to reverse engineer things.” In brief, the systems portability and advanced features helped to save time.
Thompson’s job is a mix of speed and accuracy, and he said in the case of the Staten Island Ferries, time spent was de- pendant on the scope of the project. “The total reverse engineering time was 80 to 100 hours with the John Noble and that was modeling the entire ship; the hull, the superstructure, the interiors ... everything,” said Thompson. But on the Newhouse the project was limited to superstructure coatings and flooring, as NYC DOT was removing the linoleum flooring and replacing it with a poured coat flooring. “To go out to bid they need an exact square footage; I can give them that relatively quickly, about 50 hours or less,” said Thompson
“With the FARO system I can re-model the entire ship and come up with an entirely new GA,” said Thompson. “Being able to give an ‘As-Built’ is valuable to the owner, whether it’s the entire vessel or a specific system or area. In the case where we’re doing something like pip- ing for a ballast water system, once I’m done modeling the ship or a system, the owner ends up with the new GA’s any- way because I have to reverse engineer certain parts so that I can get the system in.”