5 Benefits of Using Robots to Inspect Confined Spaces
For many years, both obligatory and proactive confined space asset inspection has presented multiple challenges. From logistics through to the risk to human life, there’s not a maintenance manager out there who hasn’t experienced the pain of organising the necessary investigations and repairs.
Thankfully, there’s now a variety of novel solutions to remove the burdens of cost, time and danger, and this comes in the form of robots.
Read on to discover the 5 benefits of remote robotic system inspections that are revolutionising the art of NDT inspections.
What is a Remote Visual Inspection?
Remote Visual Inspection (RVI) enables inspectors to carry out an in-depth analysis of a confined space without the need for a human to enter the area. This is appropriated by using a robot, such as a crawler or drone. The latter is more suitable for large areas, while the former is best suited for small vessels, perhaps comprising of multiple pipes and smaller dimensions.
The robot is controlled by a human operator who, depending on the technology used, can be located close by or many miles away. The robot used is fitted with the necessary cameras, sensors and measuring aids to carry out the inspection. Examples of this include high-resolution pan-tilt-zoom cameras, 4K video, ultrasonic transducers and more.
5 Key Benefits of Remote Visual Inspection
RVI provides massive benefits over traditional inspection methods.
- Safety: RVI removes the need for human inspectors to enter hazardous areas. The implications of this alone are enormous, as confined space entry is one of the most dangerous aspects of NDT. In addition to the human cost, the insurance element will also be dramatically lower.
- Cost savings: The use of robots takes away many of the laborious pre-inspection tasks that inevitably end up with the asset being taken offline. From the emptying of toxic contents through to risk assessments, this represents a dramatic cost reduction.
- Reliability: With the best will in the world, human inspection is subject to error. Robots, on the other hand, return reliable data every time. This can then be easily shared with whoever needs the data, allowing for analysis, review and audits to be carried out as needed.
- Increased coverage: A robot can access areas that humans can’t. Close-up images and readings of any areas of interest are easily gathered and stored.
- Increased confidence: From personnel and employees through to clients and investors, the ability to carry out fast and safe inspections instils trust in an operation. In addition, by easing the logistics of NDT, it’s possible to be far more proactive, carrying out maintenance more regularly and so reducing the chances of unexpected shutdowns or emergency situations.
Examples of Remote Visual Inspection Technology
Robotic systems allow for a wide variety of inspection techniques. These include:
- Corrosion and damage assessment: Robots can be fitted with 3D imaging systems and lighting that allow for the precise assessment of damaged and corroded areas. Compliance with local, national, and international regulations is assured, with software that produces the necessary reports.
- Ultrasonic thickness measurements: In addition to regular measurements, ultrasonic transducers can be added for further analysis.
- Bespoke testing requirements: The beauty of RVI is that unique testing technique solutions can be created on top of existing technology to access even the most complex of internal structures and carry out the necessary test with ease. Eddy current, radiography, magnetic particle… Whatever is required can be easily included.
Robotic and associated technology is playing a vital role in a wide range of industries, including mining, oil & gas, nuclear and more. Equipment provider, Nexxis, is renowned for the provision of cutting-edge solutions that address even the most complex of inspection tasks.
This bespoke approach is just one of the reasons that Nexxis is becoming the procurement provider for organisations across Australia and further afield.
You might also find this useful: From Design to Service & Maintenance: Steps to Preventing Pipeline & Pressure Vessel Failure