Rockwell Automation has partnered with French company TotalEnergies to develop a robot fleet management system for autonomous operations on offshore platforms.
The implementation of this technology is set to revolutionize the oil and gas sector by reducing employee exposure to hazardous situations, increasing safety, and attracting young talent interested in new technologies, while further reducing CAPEX and OPEX.
Using Robots for Remote Operations
TotalEnergies has been investing in robots and remote operations for the past decade. They have been using autonomous surveillance and inspection robots certified to the ATEX explosive atmospheres standard. Now, with the implementation of the Robotic Supervision System (RSS) developed in collaboration with Kalypso, a Rockwell Automation company, TotalEnergies can remotely supervise and coordinate robots using IoT technology.
In a statement, Matt Graves, director at Kalypso said:
“Because of the remote and often harsh environments in which oil and gas companies operate offshore, there is a strategic objective to minimize employee exposure on these platforms. Over the years, this has been achieved by improving the design and automating equipment. But there are still tasks that need to be performed manually, many of which involve observations by operators. For five years, TotalEnergies has been investigating the use of ground robots to undertake some of these manual tasks and the next step was to develop a control system to operate these robots remotely. For that, they turned to Kalypso.”
From Gamification to Digital Twining
The Robot Supervision System combines the functionality of a digital twin and the mobility and synchronization of a gaming platform. This allows for the effective consolidation of HMI displays necessary for remote operators to work efficiently. Kalypso used the Unity game engine, developed by Unity Technologies to interface the robots with existing industrial systems. This real-time development platform is the backbone of many of today’s top video games and represents data in a user-friendly interface.
For Grégoire Audouin, R&D department robotics system architect at TotalEnergies,
“These tests are important at this stage of the project so that we understand all the operational aspects of using the robots for inspection purposes, anticipating the further potential for maintenance and operation. The main benefit for the operators is to remotely control these robots and have an immersive view from a central control room. There is huge potential for innovation in our industry.”
The oil and gas industry has always aspired to achieve autonomous operations for offshore facilities due to the difficult working conditions associated with offshore operations. TotalEnergies and Kalypso are creating the facilities of the future that are safer, more efficient, and more sustainable. The long-running project is set to reach a significant milestone with its first test on an offshore asset scheduled for mid-2023.
Source: Rockwell Automation