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Case Study: Inspecting 63 Offshore Tanks In 2 Weeks with Elios 2 & 3 Technology

Offshore rig tank inspection presents multiple challenges. Juggling inspection team members with operational staff, bringing the necessary equipment to a limited space – not to mention working timescales around production.

Typical inspection methods are lengthy, require multiple team members and inspection permits. Innovation robotics company, Flyability, was approached by TDBR Inspections to help find a streamlined solution that would reduce the historically long inspection task of tank inspections on the 3R-2 Rig off the Brazilian coast.

The Asset

The rig, 3R-2 had over 70 onboard tanks – most of which required visual inspection for structural defects, corrosion, cracks, weld integrity, fittings and signs of stress. Drone company, TDBR Inspections, was tasked with the job. The inspection required the gathering of visual data to check for faults and defects.

The facility had been in production for 10 years and inspections and maintenance records were of a high standard. The maximum number of people on board is 60 and the rig was accessed by helicopter. Equipment storage was also at a premium.

The Challenge

The challenges were many and could be summed up as follows:

  • There were multiple tanks to be inspected
  • The inspection data needed to be of a comparable (or better) quality than the previous manual inspections
  • The number of people on board the rig was restricted. Engineers, operators and other staff would remain in situ, meaning a large inspection team wasn’t possible. Removing staff would have compromised production efficiency
  • Historical inspections have required large inspection teams with large amounts of equipment, such as scaffolding, who remained on the rig for extended periods

The big question was whether the tank inspections could be done quicker, by fewer people and to the same or a higher standard than traditional methods.

The Solution

Working in partnership with Flyability, TDBR Inspections had previous successful experience using their innovative drone technology. They decided that the twin combination of Elios 2 and Elios 3 would be the ideal solution.

The project was split into two phases:

  • Phase 1: A small team travelled to the rig with Elios 2. They completed some external reconnaissance flights to plan how the main inspection (phase 2) would take place. It should be noted that traditional human-entry inspections require a special permit. This doesn’t apply to remote drone access
  • Phase 2: The team returned a month later with both the Elios 2 and Elios 3. The inspection utilised both models and took place over 14 days. The total flying time was over 10 hours and there were 88 drone flights in total

Both visual and LiDAR data was captured during the inspection, and processed using the Inspector 4 software. The visual data gave insight to the status of the tanks, and the LiDAR was used to create a 3D model of the asset, and identify the location of any defect/degradation and point of interests highlighted. 63 tanks in total were inspected, with the drone data and resulting reports and models easily and quickly providing detailed information about the interior of the tanks. All of this was gathered remotely, without the need for human entry.

The efficiency of such a large inspection task can’t be overstated. Not only was the process time reduced dramatically, but the data returned was either comparable to or better than that gathered during previous, traditional inspections. Operational aspects were only minimally impacted and production remained on target.

Tank inspection is just one example of how the Elios 2 and Elios 3 can expedite processes at scale. Fast-tracking inspections with such technology is a primary method of lowering operational overheads. In an ever more challenging marketplace, early adopters of such technology are taking full advantage and reaping the resulting competitive benefits.

Contact us to find out more about the Elios 2 and Elios 3 or any of our other drone products, or request a quote online.

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