Seeing below the surface

State-of-the-art 3D sonar scanning technology by Finnish specialists

On 17 February, Bavarian TV reported on underwater inspections carried out at bayernhafen Regensburg by Finnish specialists. The fascinating two-minute video, “Under water with the sonar scanner”, can be watched online in the BR video library:


Find out more in the Bayerischen Rundfunk news item, “Special camera peers through murky waters”:


Background information: 

If something is to work over the long term, it needs regular maintenance to keep it in good shape. This is also true for everything that is under water, such as quay walls, bridge pillars, docks and lock structures; because, over time, damage can occur not just above but also below the surface. The question is whether divers are constantly needed to carry out inspections, or is there a more efficient way to identify underwater damage?

The answer to this question is supplied by the Finnish company, VRT Finland Oy, a specialist in 3D measurement technology for inspecting underwater structures. Sonar scanning is used to create an exact three-dimensional image of the riverbed/seabed and underwater structures. This three-dimensional image is then visually post-processed and geodetically mapped (that is, precisely aligned to existing reference points in the surrounding terrain). The resulting visual information and documentation supplies the precise ‘diagnosis’ for the diver to know exactly where he needs to carry out ‘maintenance therapy’. 

“With sonar technology, it doesn’t matter how murky the water is”, says Klaus Hohberger, COO of bayernhafen Gruppe. “It works even if the diver can’t see his own hand in front of his face. So, we get to see what is normally invisible to the human eye. The VRT structural monitoring system combines cost-effective inspection methods with state-of-the-art measurement technology – without causing any interruption to normal port operations. It gives us precise documentation on the state of our walls and we know exactly if, when and where we need to act”. 

bayernhafen Gruppe uses underwater sonar scanning at all of its locations and is also the distribution partner for the VRT system in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Further information can be found on the VRT Webpage, also containing a short product video:


The Finnish company, VRT, uses sonar scanning to create an exact three-dimensional image of land and structures below the surface. (Image source: VRT)
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