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Cutting-Edge Solutions to Long-Range Pipe Inspection

Long-range pipe inspection has long been a challenge. However, when you have an expanse that stretches over 300 km and there are two blockages? Well, that presents a headache to even the most experienced maintenance teams.

Nexxis was approached to find a solution to such an issue, giving the engineers in Nexxis’ custom robotics team the chance to show exactly what they were made of

The Problem

The asset – a pipeline of > 300 km – had two known blockages (Pigs – Pipeline Inspection Gauges) that were estimated by the client to be located along a 1.2 km stretch about 43 km in. The pipeline had been offline for around 2.5 years, during which time no effective solution had been found to accurately pinpoint the blockages.

The length of time that the pipeline had been shut down also exacerbated the issue, as the internal dynamics of the pipe were unknown. Pipe collapse, structural damage and landscape failure were all potential additional problems to navigate.

The Challenge

Long-range inspections offer unique challenges. Extensive distances can be covered by robotic tools, but they need to be able to surmount the following:

  • Overcoming the pull and friction drag
  • Be able to traverse within the (often small, crowded, or unknown condition) pipe diameter
  • Have the ability to send increased voltage power over long distances
  • Be small enough to manoeuvre within a restricted space but be of adequate weight to provide the required traction and torque
  • Be tough enough to be exposed to dangerous and harsh environments

The Solution

A viable solution was going to need particular attributes. The engineered long-range crawler system had to have the weight for considerable traction, be small enough to navigate through potentially damaged areas and carry the right inspection camera equipment to return high-quality data.

With an array of long-range pipe inspection tools at their disposal, the Nexxis team needed one with a tether long enough to traverse the length of the pipe and a framework that could be configured for different internal pipe diameters.

The general location of the two stuck Pigs was estimated to be along a 1.2 km stretch of the pipe. Because of this, a custom long-range crawler with a 1,000 metre tether was chosen as the optimal tool. This meant that the task would be able to be carried out from two separate entry points.

The following additions were added to the crawler:

  • A spring-loaded traction enhancement kit that could run the system in its inline configuration
  • An additional weight block

Together, these ensured that the crawler could be connected to power and have the traction to traverse the extended distances within the pipeline.

On entering the pipe, the crawler returned  HD images and video, resulting in the quick location of both pigs. They were 664 metres along the pipeline and, thanks to the quality of the inspection data, it was observed that one had collapsed beneath the other. The location was pinpointed and, once again – thanks to the accuracy of the returned data – the client was easily able to remove both with minimal disruption to the integrity of the pipe.

Because of the speed that the task was performed, it was possible to exceed the customer’s initial requirements and inspect a further 4 km along the pipework. The HD images returned were extremely valuable in helping the client understand the overall condition of the asset – something that was very important in a pipeline that had been out of service for so long.

The longest pass made was a shade under 1 km, at 972 metres, showcasing the abilities of a custom robotic Nexxis solution for long-range pipe inspection.

Nexxis is a world leader in curated solutions for the most difficult of inspection challenges. Long-range pipe inspection is wholly dependent on the quality of the data and images it returns, as well as being able to traverse potentially unknown diameters of pipes over extensive distances.

Nexxis has access to a cutting-edge range of robotic tools. This provides an extensive arsenal of high-end long-range pipe inspection solutions. In combination with a highly-trained technology 4.0 team and custom solutions to overcome even the most difficult inspection tasks, Nexxis is fast becoming the go-to provider for making seemingly impossible inspection tasks become reality.

Contact us to find out more, or request a quote online.


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