FAIRCOP

Measuring wind conditions with lasers for the safer, more productive use of cranes.

Last updated: 27th April 2021

Date uploaded:

Approved for use

Innovation Lead: Sherrie Rad
Project number: 104790
UKRI funding: £39,221

Website:
www.fraunhofer.co.uk


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Summary

Converging-beam LIDAR uses laser technology to measures three-dimensional wind velocity at a particular point and time. After observing how LIDAR can optimise outputs from wind turbines, Triple Lidar Technology set out to test it on tower cranes in construction. The feasibility study (called FAIRCOP) showed that accessing real-time 3D data on localised wind speed and direction can help the construction industry maximise the productivity of cranes, scheduling them when they can be used most effectively and most safely.

Innovation type: Digital
Organisation type: Innovative SME

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Project pioneers

Triple Lidar Technology has been applying LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging technology) in the wind energy sector to optimise energy output. It saw an opportunity to improve the productivity of construction tower cranes are onsite.

The problem

Up to around a quarter of crane accidents can be directly attributed to extreme wind, while problems due to non-wind faults are often exacerbated by the wind. The main problem is that forecasts and existing wind-speed devices do not accurately warn of extreme gusts or sudden changes and so can't provide accurate wind vector data.

Vision

Cranes are increasingly important for fast construction of large structures such as wind turbines but also for modular construction where factory prepared structures need to be lifted into place. With the improved data on localised wind conditions that FAIRCOP provides, scheduling of crane use can be better optimised and they can be more productive onsite.

Key Insight

The team has designed, built and tested beam-steering LIDARs for the wind industry to maximise turbine outputs. They saw the opportunity to transfer that knowledge to construction site risk.

First step

The Transforming Construction challenge offered the perfect opportunity to test the feasibility of the technology for scheduling of crane operations. The Feasibility of Converging Beam LIDAR for Improving Crane Operational Productivity - or FAIRCOP - was born.

Barrier

Accurate, site-specific data on wind speed and direction is not currently available so the use of exposed cranes is largely down to human judgement.

Digital Innovation

The feasibility study investigated how converging-beam LIDAR can better predict the risk in using cranes on various construction site types, such as offshore wind farm construction, onshore wind farm construction, skyscraper construction, bridge construction and other sub-sectors. Data from LIDAR can provide more accurate wind vector data, as well as short-term forecasting (1 to 5 minutes ahead) which can then be combined with the usual hours and days ahead forecasting to better assess wind speed and direction and the risk to operations. Also, site specific localised 3D wind mapping can better characterise the wind conditions for a specific site prior to crane deployment. This helps teams select the best and safest crane configuration, and understand better the likely wind downtime for more accurate project planning. New 3D laser wind measurement offers:

  • increased safe working availability
  • elimination of unsafe working
  • new safety alarms and operator warnings
  • 5-minute look ahead measurement
  • improved local wind profiling and mapping
  • AI cranes to learn what increases loads
  • dynamic centre of mass and load calculation
  • local site characterisation to improve planning

Collaborators

Triple Lidar Technology is the project lead and worked with Fraunhofer UK, a research centre in Glasgow.

  • Fraunhofer UK
  • Triple Lidar Technology

Lead support

Transforming Construction Challenge enabled the testing of the LIDAR technology for scheduling of crane operations.

Long Term Vision

Cranes are used more and more to support the fast construction of large structures such as wind turbines, or where factory-prepared structures need to be lifted into place on modular builds. By measuring localised wind speeds and direction in real time, LIDAR technology can better predict and manage the risks and optimise crane scheduling around wind conditions. This will lead to more productive programmes that require the fast construction of large or modular structures.

Human Stories

FAIRCOP feasibility study showed how LIDAR technology can measure and predict wind conditions to better manage the risk of using cranes on large or modular builds, creating a safer environment for site workers and ensuring teams are productive and working on the right tasks at the right times.

Powerful Processes

The feasibility study investigated how converging-beam LIDAR can better predict the risk in using cranes on various construction site types, such as offshore wind farm construction, onshore wind farm construction, skyscraper construction, bridge construction and other sub-sectors. Data from LIDAR can provide more accurate wind vector data, as well as short-term forecasting (1 to 5 minutes ahead) which can then be combined with the usual hours and days ahead forecasting to better assess wind speed and direction and the risk to operations. Also, site specific localised 3D wind mapping can better characterise the wind conditions for a specific site prior to crane deployment. This helps teams select the best and safest crane configuration, and understand better the likely wind downtime for more accurate project planning.

Fascinating Facts

Up to around a quarter of crane accidents can be directly attributed to extreme wind, while problems due to non-wind faults are often exacerbated by the wind. New 3D laser wind measurement offers:

  • increased safe working availability
  • elimination of unsafe working
  • new safety alarms and operator warnings
  • 5-minute look ahead measurement
  • improved local wind profiling and mapping
  • AI cranes to learn what increases loads
  • dynamic centre of mass and load calculation
  • local site characterisation to improve planning

Benefits

Safety
LIDAR data provides a 3D model of wind vectors to enable a better assessment of risk to crane use.

Time
Crane operations are suspended when (often inaccurate) wind speeds are forecast. Better data will expand the operating window for cranes on sites.

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