Snake-arm robot to showcase offshore inspection capabilities at ITF event

Delegates at this week’s ITF Technology Showcase will be given an insight into how a novel snake-arm robot could take offshore inspection to a new level ahead of its first trial with Chevron.

Technology developer, OC Robotics has proven the capability of the P100 snake-arm robotic inspection system onshore and is now exploring the feasibility of robotic inspection of offshore oil and gas pressure vessels. Snake-arm robots are driven by wire ropes and controlled by OC Robotics’ proprietary software. Snake-arm robots are especially suited to working in confined and hazardous spaces as they can navigate and traverse cluttered environments. Only the arm itself is deployed into the workspace as the main drive motors, electronics and control systems are located away from the inspection area.

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The project is being funded by Innovate UK’s ‘Energy Game Changer’ programme. OC Robotics & Chevron are exhibiting on Innovate UK’s stand along with a number of companies that secured funding through the competition last year. Innovate is the UK’s innovation agency which aims to drive science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy – delivering productivity, new jobs and exports.

As part of the project, a world first offshore trial will take place on one of Chevron’s North Sea assets to assess current capabilities and future needs for long-term operation of robotic equipment. OC Robotics is adapting its existing technology to be more robust and adaptable for the restricted access encountered on offshore rigs, such as deck layouts, narrow walkways and handrails.

Russell Brown, Senior Reliability Engineer, Chevron ETC said: “We inspect our assets at regular intervals to determine their continued fitness for service and prevent asset-integrity or process-safety-related incidents. This causes a dilemma as, to do so, we have to perform high-risk, confined-space inspections. To this end, Chevron and the wider industry have been looking for solutions that will help minimise human entry in confined and hazardous environments for tasks like cleaning and inspection.”

Rebecca Smith, Project Manager at OC Robotics said: “Our project is innovative in the deployment of robotic technology in harsh environments, such as the North Sea. There is real potential to improve inspection outputs and extend asset life by characterising vessels and assessing fitness for service without human entry into dangerous and confined spaces. We are at an exciting stage with the P100 and we look forward to telling our story to a like-minded audience at the Showcase.”

The annual ITF Technology Showcase at AECC – Technology in Action – brings together some of the brightest minds from inside and outside of oil and gas to challenge current thinking and bring fresh focus on progressing new solutions.

Dr Geoff McGrath, Chief Innovation Officer at McLaren Applied Technologies and the KPMG McLaren Alliance will give a keynote on ‘innovation from outside our industry’ at the conference and exhibition at AECC on Wednesday 1st March.

Other plenary speakers include Colette Cohen, Chief Executive of the Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC), Dr Geoff Nesbitt, Group Head of Technology Strategy at Petrofac and Willie Reid, Director of the Strathclyde Oil and Gas Institute. Gunther Newcombe, Director of Operations, Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) and Greta Lydecker, Managing Director, Chevron Upstream Europe will also join the morning panel session.

An Innovation hall will be dedicated to supporting the innovator community and showcasing the very best in new thinking, products, solutions and services.

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