Robotic Vessel Inspections Keep People Out of Harm’s Way
Advanced nondestructive-testing technology such as drones and robotics were tried in Abu Dhabi National Oil Company gas-processing field sites successfully and demonstrated the benefits of using such technology for inspections to ensure asset integrity without any compromise on safety while saving time and operational expenses.
Robot technology has developed over time and has taken on different dimension in the recent past. Robots are used extensively in the automobile industry, and their use is spreading. A 2016 paper by Van Den Bos, Strand, Mallion et al. lays out the Petrobot Project, funded by the EU. The Petrobot project, the paper reads, “was engaged in developing a use-case inspection robot for oil and gas industries. … The offline internal inspection of pressure vessels is possible to avoid the high cost of human entry as well as reduce plant downtime and inline inspection of aboveground storage tanks to avoide lost revenue by keeping tanks in full operation.”
Advanced nondestructive-testing (NDT) technology such as drones and robotics were tried in Abu Dhabi National Oil Company gas-processing field sites successfully and demonstrated the benefits of using such technology for inspections to ensure asset integrity without any compromise on safety while saving time and operational expenses. The objective of GE’s Bike robotic inspection platform is to provide an effective and complete inspection solution without manned entry, thus avoiding inspection staff being exposing to H2S and temperatures inside the confined space during internal inspection of the vessel. The main advantages of mobile robots is their ability to reach locations inaccessible by humans for safety reasons.
Aim of Robotic Inspection
The main aim of this field trial was to use the robotic solutions that can supplement and enhance human skills in the inspection of pressure vessels widely used in the the oil and gas and petrochemical industries. This field trial aimed to deviate fom conventional NDT toward robotic inspection solutions and validate these in real-world use cases, namely offline internal inspection of pressure vessels. The main proposed benefits of robotic inspection tools for the internal inspection of offline pressure vessels include
- Avoiding or minimizing the need for human entry into assets and thereby increasing safety
- Minimizing and shortening operational disruptions that result from asset inspections, which, in turn, could lead to lost revenue because of asset downtime
- Avoiding or minimizing environmental risks
- Eliminating or reducing costs associated with the opening and cleaning of assets
- Gathering adequate inspection data that can support important decision-making, such as extending internal inspection periods
The key activities of the field trail are the deployment of Bike for offline pressure vessel inspections. The complete calue chain, from the providers of the robotic technology to the und users, was mobilized to develop inspection robots and validate them in use cases. This has led to a robot satisfying the design specifications, able to deliver effective inspections.