Tank-cleaning robot increases safety, efficiency

Offshore Cleaning System’s new industrial robot, the Industrobot H5, is designed to clean large above-ground tanks that contain hazardous materials or environments. The robot is controlled by technicians in an air-conditioned cabin while wielding tools at pressures that are too powerful for humans to handle, according to the company.

According to a recent study by a third-party engineering and project management firm, the robot’s strengths and capabilities outmatch those of an entire cleaning crew. Chapman Consulting Inc. conducted the study that compared the capabilities of the robot with humans by comparing the data between two jobs with nearly identical variables. The human workers removed 3,040 bbl of product from a tank in about 300 hours, while the ROV removed 4,831 bbl of product from a similar tank in 150 hours. The robot was able to complete the bulk removal phase using only 16% of the man-hours compared to a conventional manned cleaning job. The study concluded that the robot has the potential to significantly lower incident rates, insurance costs, and exposure to liability.

Adaptations of the Industrobot can be useful for tank farm operators, refinery maintenance managers, marine transport managers, exploration companies, the military, and nuclear energy producers, the company said. Possible applications include potable water and/or municipal water storage supply cleaning; marine-related tankage; and crawl spaces on seagoing vessels, barges, and tankers.

3-D virtual software, hardware improves simulation training

The 3Di-TouchWall is an integrated software/hardware solution from GSE Systems that produces a 3-D 87-in. high-definition projected image. Using the image, the system’s infrared head-motion tracking, stereo sound, and DLP stereoscopic 3-D glasses, a user can interact with virtual equipment and freely navigate through virtual environments. The infrared motion tracking allows users’ points of view to match their position in real time, the company said. The resulting parallax increases the realism beyond what stereoscopic 3-D glasses alone can provide. The system provides a simulation experience similar to a cave automatic virtual environment at less expense, according to the company. The ActiveBoard 587 multiuser surface, manufactured by Promethean World, allows users to operate hands-free. According to the company, this tool is an answer to training challenges, bringing the value of simulator-based control room operator training into the engineering space for job performance measures, prejob briefs, and task-based training.

Autonomous vehicle cleans underwater structures

SeaRobotics Corp. has designed a Hull Bio-inspired Underwater Grooming (HullBUG) system for its large-scale seawater facility, funded by the US Navy Office of Naval Research. The robot is an autonomous underwater vehicle programmed to crawl on ship hulls or other underwater structures and proactively groom the surface, allowing ship hulls to remain in a clean state at all times, according to the company. The vehicle weighs 65 to 90 pounds. It attaches to the hull and performs gentle cleaning functions, led by numerous embedded computers that perform the navigation and sensing tasks. According to the company, improved hull conditions are estimated to improve fuel efficiency by 5%. This also translates into a savings of US $15 billion per year for the shipping industry worldwide. Additionally, the technology may reduce the 1 billion tons of greenhouse gasses emitted by the fleet, the company said. Opportunities in commercial shipping, oil and gas, nuclear, and conventional power generation markets are under discussion.

SMC reduces parts, simplifies mooring process

Balltec’s Helical subsea mooring connector (SMC) is a simplified connector designed to retain ease of use while reducing the amount of parts needed and eliminating the need for chemicals and environment seals, according to the company. The design combines top-entry, self-aligning, and quick installation features of the more complex ball and taper mooring connector with the simplicity of a traditional ROV H-Link, the company said. The SMC is a three-piece connector comprising the male and female elements, which are machined load-bearing forgings, and a connecting pin. When the male connector is lowered into the female, chamfers on the nose of the male interface with chamfers on the female body, interlocking both male and female elements and ensuring the pin holes are self-aligned for easy first-time insertion of the connection pin. The connecting pin is preinstalled and easily pushed by ROVs, according to the company. The docking fabrication contains an internal sleeve with a J-Slot cam profile to secure the pin in position and prevent any accidental release of the connection. The pin has a sprung handle that engages within the bottom of the J-Slot to prevent release, the company said. After insertion, the handle of the connecting pin is located and encased within the docking fabrication to prevent any impact damage. A nonsprung locking device is offered for applications in hostile, high-corrosion environments.

PSV has fuel-efficient hull form, optimized power distribution

The IHC Packhorse offshore support vessel from IHC Merwede is part of a new series of platform support vessels (PSVs). The main features of the PSV are a large working deck, a fuel-efficient hull form, optimized power distribution, and a flexible tank configuration. The series includes the IHC Packhorse-Maxi, a variant on the basic hull form that has dual-stability books for operation as a nonspecial purpose ship PSV at deeper draught. It has a large deck designed for retrofitting of a heli-deck and is prestrengthened to accommodate a 100-tonne heave-compensated crane. The deck also can carry mission spreads such as diving support, ROV operation, and cable-laying. It provides a 59-person accommodation unit and options designed for subsea support on inspection, repair, and maintenance work and light construction. Portable dive systems and cable-lay solutions are available.

System provides connectivity to movable assets on oil field

The Rapid Alignment System (RAS) from Redline Communications is a new digital oilfield product that provides high-speed connectivity to movable and roving assets when it is within the range of a private wide-area wireless network. It enables real-time machine-to-machine communications, SCADA, automation control, high-definition video, Wi-Fi, and telephony directly to a vehicle, rig, portable office, or other movable asset, the company said. After being mounted, it automatically locates, aims toward, and connects to a base station. The tool uses beam-forming, with no moving parts, to perform a 360° survey. It then self-aligns to the optimal base station. It authenticates and configures all quality of services and security settings needed to bring the local network connection online at speeds up to 100 MB/sec, the company said. The tool can automatically repeat the survey and connect to another base station should throughput levels drop below a configurable threshold.