For the first time ever, evolutionary pipeline technology has been created. Not only will this exclusive technology improve functioning, but it will also greatly enhance safety measures. All this comes with the unveiling of the FSWBot – Friction Stir Welding Robotic Crawler – that internally examines and repairs pipelines. In short, it will completely revolutionize the way pipeline issues are dealt with.
Undertaken by Forth Engineering, the FSWBot will be unveiled on the 27th of November in Aberdeen at the British Manufacturing and Fabrication Offshore Energy event. The FSWBot, however, has also set itself new horizons with presentations at the Offshore Pipeline Technology Conference in Amsterdam and the Friction Stir Welding International Symposium in Japan.
Forth Engineering Project Manager, Peter Routledge related, “We are getting a lot of interest and inquiries about the FSWBot from across the globe. Interest is really building, including from America and Canada.” It is speculated that the FSWBot could potentially expand into other repair tasks if it continues to show promise. A clear marker of its quality, the FSWBot is already receiving funding from organizations such as UK Innovate.
Forth Engineering, too, is venturing into other territories. Having partnered up with TWI, J4IC, Innvotek and LSBU, they are making headway on a project designed to increase safety measures within the existing industry.
Essentially, friction stir welding is a solid-state welding process that works to structure metal via heat to the point that it is not melted. What the FSW system wills to portray is that a patch weld can be created within a steel pipe which the system can then operate internally.
The consortium is interested in talking to companies that show an interest in such a system so that they may develop their system accordingly.
Managing Director of Forth, Mark Telford, “As a company we have developed a worldwide reputation for developing a range of robotic solutions for use in harsh environments. The tools we have developed over the years have been for and used by, Sellafield, to successfully solve challenges in the nuclear industry. So, our technology is tried and tested in harsh environments. There’s a fantastic opportunity for other businesses and organisations in the UK and across the world, whether that’s other nuclear operations, or oil and gas, renewables, and perhaps areas we haven’t even thought of, to make use of that technology, and to share their challenges so we can develop the FSWBot in ways to help them. There are industries all over the world which face their own similar issues and by sharing knowledge and collaborating we can help each other overcome some of those challenges. At the moment, an industry, a company, or an organisation, may see their only solution as sending a person into that extremely hazardous area. But that costs a huge amount of money, takes a lot of time, and is, by the very nature of the situation, putting people’s lives at risk. We are very keen to talk to any businesses or organisations who are faced with that type of challenge and discuss with them alternative solutions to the problems they face. We would far rather those businesses talked to us and shared what their own particular issues are. That way we can see if we can help them. Because at the end of the day, that business, or organisation, might be able to save time, money and potentially save lives, just by talking to us and sharing with us the issue they face.”
According to announcements, the FSWBot and the project are both scheduled to be completed by January 2021.
How the FSWBot Works:
At this stage, the FSWBot has planned a five or six segment PIG vehicle that can travel down a pipeline with the oil flow in order to carry out a repair. While the FSWBot is supported by one segment, another is responsible for transporting the control system, navigation, NDT, communications and power storage payloads. Once inside the pipeline, the FSWBot will locate the damaged area and use a milling tool to remove the corroded area and form a pocket in the pipe into which steel will be dispensed. The patch will then be covered up and NDT packages will be used to ensure a proper repair.