Woodside Leads New Offshore Robotics System Development

Woodside Leads New Offshore Robotics System Development
Woodside has teamed up with Nexxis, Monadelphous, WOMA, and Fugro to develop a new offshore caisson cleaning and inspection tool system.

Australian energy major Woodside has led the group consisting of Nexxis, Monadelphous, WOMA, and Fugro, in developing an innovative offshore caisson cleaning and inspection tool (CCAIT system). The tool allows safe and cost-effective remote inspection of critical equipment on its offshore platforms.

The one-of-a-kind system was designed, developed, and deployed in less than 12 months. The CCAIT system incorporates a human-sized robot, designed to inspect the inside of caissons – vertical carbon steel pipes up to 230 feet long and up to 4 feet wide. These structures are used on offshore platforms to house critical equipment such as firewater and seawater lift pumps.

In response to possible COVID-related supply chain risks, a local solution was sought, inspiring the collaboration.

The CCAIT system is remotely controlled from a safe location on an offshore platform by skilled technicians. The tool is lowered inside the caisson via a tether and winch arrangement. Wheels are then extended to centralize the tool within the caisson, and probe arms extend to enable ultrasound inspection. A series of high-definition cameras stream video back to the technicians, with the data used by the asset team to define the forward plan.

“The CCAIT system removes the costs of mobilizing tools from international locations, including the cost of delay in fractured supply chains. These can represent up to 50% of the total cost of an inspection campaign,” Woodside Executive Vice President Technical Services Daniel Kalms said.

“It was incredible to see the team, including Woodside graduate robotics engineers, write software to dramatically improve the performance and usability of the tool. The project team was made up of people from local companies who came together and designed, procured, fabricated, tested, and validated a robotic solution during the height of a pandemic in under a year,” he added.

“Building a bespoke Ultra High-Pressure cleaning solution that can quickly remove marine growth to allow inspection without damaging the protective coatings was challenging and rewarding. We drew from our local supplier expertise and relationships to test the latest technology onshore and successfully lead the offshore deployment,” added Chris Heron, a coatings subject matter expert from Woodside’s major maintenance partner Monadelphous.

Nexxis Technology CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Jason de Silveira said Woodside’s decision to partner with a local company demonstrated the strong sovereign capability of Australia’s advanced manufacturing sector to develop and deploy cutting-edge robotic technology. “This collaboration highlights local capability and supports small to medium enterprises, creating jobs in the advanced manufacturing sector and pushing the frontier of robotics globally,” he said.

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