Canadian Pacific Railway, Winnipeg Canada

Laser Survey Gives Green Light to Turbine Manufacturer

Business Challenge

A turbine manufacturer in Japan wanted to deliver a 600 ton turbine to a client in Calgary, Canada. Before manufacture of the turbine could begin, it was critical to verify that the turbine design could fit unimpeded through the 1500 mile railroad network between the Port of Duluth, WI, and its final destination.

The manufacturer turned to Specialized Rail Transport (SRT), a Houston Based logistics company, to confirm the turbine’s design specifications. Due to the critical timeline for turbine manufacture, SRT was looking for a service provider that could quickly mobilise and deliver an over dimensional load survey of the railroad network and asked Geomatic Technologies (GT) if it could help.

Services Overview

Despite the freezing winter temperatures, GT was willing to meet SRT’s tight timeframe. Using GT’s AIMS (Asset Inspection Mapping System) GT surveyed 900 miles of Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) network (600 miles of the Burlington North Santa Fe or BNSF network had already been deemed satisfactory) over an 8 day period, with only 6 hours of daylight available per day and with temperatures reaching -30°C.

GT collected continuous laser, imagery and positional data along the railroad route. During office processing, a profile of the turbine was expanded to cater for lateral movement through curves. This maximum profile was then tested against all the laser data collected along the route and a report was generated which showed all potential encroachments to railroad assets along with the exact location of these assets.

Repeated processing of the continuous laser data enabled SRT to check a second over-dimensional load for the same corridor and also allowed GT to generate composite profiles for several major structures so that CP could easily update its clearance database.

A final report identified 4 metal truss bridges as potential encroachment locations for the turbine design, but which did not actually impact on the turbine.


–  GT’s quick mobilisation and execution ensured that railroad clearance certificates were issued
without delay so that the client could begin manufacture of the turbine.

–  Repeat processing of the continuous laser data delivered further benefits to stakeholders  demonstrating that continuous laser data surveys offer superior value to clients.

–  Delays to railroad operations were minimised as data was collected at ‘line speed’.

–  Delays to turbine manufacture were avoided due to GT’s ability to work in difficult weather  conditions.

–  Any potential encroachments could be accurately located for easy onsite verification due to the  precise positioning information collected during the survey.