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EM&I laser scanning technology helps to avoid fatalities in confined spaces

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Oilfield Technology,

Working in confined spaces carries significant safety risks with a saddening record of fatalities over the years. Working at height in confines spaces such as storage tanks on and offshore adds a further risk.

Despite stringent regulations and safety procedures the incidence rate is increasing but there have been very few alternatives that allow necessary inspections to be carried out.

The HITS JIP identified the risk of tank entry as being a key challenge to solve for the offshore floating production industry and encouraged industry to offer solutions for evaluation, including drones and robots but with limited success. A solution was needed that met classification and regulatory requirements – general, close visual, distortion, pitting, coating surveys and the ability to measure thickness.

EM&I had been working on a different approach - NoMan® using robotic cameras and synchronous lasers, both deployed from outside the confined space. The NoMan optical system gained rapid approval and has been used extensively on tanks, pressure vessels and turrets for over three years.

The NoMan synchronous laser system, which delivers the distortion, pitting, coating and thickness measurement scopes is deployed using a ‘Quadpod’ robot which was demonstrated to industry very recently.

Reducing risk is only part of the benefit, albeit a crucial one. Cost, reduced POB, improved speed of inspection and equipment availability, reduced carbon profile and management effort all add to the NoMan advantage.

The NoMan combined optical and laser system offers industry a total solution for avoiding man entry into confined spaces that meets the ALARP principle, in short, reducing the risk to As Low As Reasonably Practicable.

On a recent project on an FPSO in the North Sea a two-man team inspected four cargo oil tanks in just two days to the complete satisfaction of both the client and class society, resulting in a 90% saving in man hours normally required. “This is the future for tank and confined space inspections where we let robots do the dangerous work”, commented Danny Constantinis (Executive Chairman) of the EM&I Group.

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