The Construction Project

As the global leader in high-quality, remote time lapse camera systems with BIM integration, we collaborated on the Pennsylvania Chemicals Project, a multi-billion-dollar construction of a world-scale manufacturing plant in the North-Eastern United States.

  • Our time lapse and BIM tool, Lobster Vision, was valued as a significant contributor  to the Pennsylvania Chemical Project’s success. 
  • Lobster Vision was integrated into the project team’s construction site. management digital platform, to  verify and validate the construction progress and offer a record to inform future projects.
  • The project team was impressed with our capability to handle highly complex plant design 3D model data, and with the level of commitment, the team demonstrated to make the collaboration a success.
  • The ongoing collaboration between the project team and Lobster Pictures has led to a global partnership  with Shell. This opens the door for deploying our technology to other Shell capital projects and operating assets.


You can download our full case study here


Impressive Scale

The project team is constructing a world-scale ethane cracking plant in western Pennsylvania, United States, to create polyethylene and the scale of the project is huge:

  • 386 acres of the construction site
  • 300 miles of pipe
  • over 1,600 items of manufactured equipment
  • a 900-foot long cooling water tower
  • 4,200 steel pilings to lay the foundation
  • the largest lift weighing 1,400 metric tons.

The first of its kind in the area, the project currently employs 7,500 workers on the construction site.

Lobster Pictures Solution

The project team needed a time lapse solution to monitor and track the progress of construction and, with the complexity of this project, technology with considerable capability was required. Lobster Pictures was chosen with its powerful and unique BIM integration, Lobster Vision.

The value of the BIM integration is immense to validating the progress and to understanding the status of what has been installed versus what has been planned to be installed. It is an excellent communication tool with stakeholders as well as a powerful aid in explaining work to come to the  field crews.

The 13 cameras on-site were installed in 2018 and 2019,  a mixture of 8K and 4K. Our team were on hand to respond to any challenges or technical issues that arose and scheduled regular meetings to ensure robust communications. 

To be able to handle the highly complex plant design 3D model data and to create the BIM integration with the time lapse imagery, we partnered with plant specialists CAXperts, the creators of the Universal Plant Viewer; a unique database-driven 3D model viewer tool based on the Unity 3D real-time rendering engine. Working together with CAXperts, we created a tool for rendering the BIM model imagery precisely matching the field of view of the time lapse camera – a world’s first.



High Quality Time Lapse Solution

Dmitry Gurevich,  IT Director,  Pennsylvania Chemicals Project said:

"The quality of the time lapse imagery combined with the precisely rendered 3D/4D model shots represents a unique digital technology advancement that created tangible benefits for the active user community of nearly 1,000 people. It helps the project plan and organize the work better, improving the quality of the decisions being made across hundreds of planning and coordination meetings and the work face level interactions that take place on this construction site every single day.

"In our experience, some vendors either did not see the value, or have struggled to implement this kind of real-time integration, but Robbie was willing to co-create a unified user experience greatly benefiting the stakeholders. Lobster Pictures got it all to work seamlessly, and very quickly."


The Benefits of BIM Integration

With BIM integration, stakeholders can:

  • review the progress of installation as it develops over time
  • track critical activities as they happen
  • improve the quality of decisions,
  • visualise what the plant will look like when it is finished.


BIM integration on Shell project example.


BIM integration also makes time lapse relevant to forward work planning; today, as part of the execution of this project, and in 20 years from now, when stress-testing construction schedules for new projects. Time lapse integrated with BIM offers a powerful legacy.

The project team developed an over-arching  digital system for managing the concurrent  activity on the construction site in real-time.  In order to maximise the value of the investment  in technology, the project was keen to expose our time lapse and BIM content to  the existing community of portal users.

Our MD, Robbie Allen, worked with the team  to create a live feed between the Lobster Vision  cloud data management system and the portal, enriching the overall user experience without  adding extra complexity. The project team also benefited from our new “Make your own Video” feature, designed for this  project. The tool allows users to make their own  time lapse videos in just a few clicks. 

The Challenges

This extensive project was not without its challenges. One of the biggest issues was the availability, and reliability of the temporary electrical power throughout the ever-changing, dynamic environment of the construction site – a complication the newer, solar-powered Lobster Pot design, addresses in an elegant fashion. Harry Coelho, our senior camera technician, went above and beyond to keep the services up and running throughout.

The complexity of the 3D design model, consisting of more than 10 million objects, presented a major challenge for the BIM integration. Lobster’s partner software company was unable to offer the sophistication required here. Ways of working and proven tools, long used successfully in projects for the commercial building construction industry, failed to scale up and handle the complexity of a petrochemical plant’s 3D model.

In response, in collaboration with CAXperts, Lobster designed a new, first-to-market BIM integration pipeline centered on the Universal Plant Viewer, capable of handling engineering models of virtually any complexity.


Impressed with the Lobster Pictures Team

Dmitry Gurevich, IT Director, Pennsylvania Chemicals Project ends on:

"We were really impressed with the energy and commitment from Robbie and the Lobster team for their relentless drive to make the BIM integration work."


How could we help you too?

To find out how our time lapse and BIM integration could help your business, contact us on: +44 (0)117 370 4217 or