3D Printed Model of Processing Plant Enhances Communication, Planning and Training
By Joffrey Bouchard-Gorin
Article reprinted with permission from Ausenco.
We are often asked to consider the “big picture” when trying to solve our toughest project challenges, however understanding the “small picture”, and knowing what to focus on, can help create actionable, achievable goals which can make project planning, training and coordination, safer and more efficient.
At Argonaut Gold’s Magino project near Dubreuilville, Ontario, Canada, our Operational Readiness (OR) team has taken a unique approach to improving our client’s collaboration and information transfer, as the construction of their 10,000 t/d gold processing plant nears completion.
Our OR team works in tandem with the project delivery and execution team to provide operational readiness support within the scope of our fixed-price contract. Operating very much behind the scenes, we work closely with our client to ensure their operations team is ready to safely and effectively assume full ownership when the project is finished. Much of this preparation is focused on maintenance readiness – making sure the strategies surrounding preventative maintenance plans and scheduled component change-outs are developed in time for their assets to go online.
Developing a stand-alone “situation room” has allowed us to create an immersive environment for team members to use when coordinating project plans. At Magino, we’ve improved that experience by creating a 1:1000 scale model of their entire processing plant, which vastly improves our ability to visualize and communicate as a team.
“It’s like a helicopter tour of the actual site, without having to leave the boardroom,” says Victor Barua, Argonaut General Manager.
Working with Montreal-based 3D printing specialists MatterThings, the 4’ x 10’ model has been created to be both detailed and interactive, as well as quickly updatable, as new components are introduced due to changes made with the original equipment design. Compared to paper drawings or even 3D computer illustrations, the model feels real and allows for direct interaction – almost as much as being there in person (see below for photos of the model).
“That’s the appealing part,” says José Hoyo, designer and partner at MatterThings. “It allows people to visualize things quickly and holistically. When you’re looking at a model you can picture yourself walking around inside, and it’s a lot easier to make a decision.”
840 individual elements were re-drafted by MatterThings and they used several different 3D printing technologies to provide the right solution for each piece of the model.
Different components are color-coded for quick identification – green for electrical, shades of blue for different pipes, brown and grey for structural elements, etc. At the height of production, 20 machines worked simultaneously in different colors and materials.
With significant experience, these craftspeople know which aspects of the model design are most useful to the end users. “Clients’ appreciate that you can dismantle different parts of the model, take a section, open it up, and look at what’s inside,” Hoyo says.
Modular components like roofs, tanks, and parts of the plant shell are attached with magnets, for example, so they can easily be removed to see what’s inside when necessary, but reattached for more general discussions.
Introducing the model as an added resource in the Magino situation room was a direct result of a strong client relationship. We worked together daily through the iterative process of project execution.
We presented the idea of the model to the client team as value adding and justifiable by demonstrating how it would contribute to better mine safety training and improve the coordination of commissioning activities. We then worked with both our client and our supplier to determine which functionalities would make it most useful, with the goal of producing an interactive learning environment for improved safety learning and culture.
As a unique tool for engineers and contractors to visualize logistics and communicate their ideas and concerns, it helps the team identify flaws and prevent potential problems. That helps reduce lost time and wasted resources and avoids costly mistakes.
For more information on how we can help you #FindABetterWay with your operational readiness, contact Joffrey Bouchard-Gorin.
Photos below of the 1:1000 scale model of the Magino processing plant and on-site infrastructure
- MatterThings Inc.