Confined Space Inspection
This study showcases key drone methods & data outputs supporting high value business outcomes on confined space inspection for Pertamina, using Flyability Elios 2 and Emesent Hovermap drone technology.
Watch the video summary below!
Halo Robotics was engaged by PT. PERTAMINA EP (PERTAMINA) for the use of commercial drone technology in a major maintenance project to overhaul a bulk crude oil storage tank. PERTAMINA requirements were organized into two scopes, each producing a common type of data that would be required for the planning, and execution, of maintenance EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) on the tank:
(1) Digital Twin: to obtain updated as-built schematics and structural data from a 3D scan of the tank.
(2) Confined Space Inspection: to obtain a complete systematic Close Visual Inspection (CVI) of the interior of the tank.
During this project Halo Robotics was able to demonstrate reliable application of specialized drone technology in both key scope areas, and was able to obtain results that significantly exceeded requirements. PERTAMINA also verified that, compared to previous manual or “traditional” methods, the use of drones to obtain Digital Twin and CVI data achieved significant savings of time and cost; increasing process efficiency while also improving safety outcomes.
Given the commercial benefits achieved, and because this tank shares identical features with API 650 tanks used globally for bulk crude oil and gasoline storage, this White Paper therefore aims to objectively document the work method and results, with the stated objective to support application of these drone technologies and techniques broadly for identical tank assets and requirements.
- Update the 1972 drawings with as-built schematics and blueprints.
- Systematically inspect the interior of the tank to determine EPC requirements.
- Mitigate risk by reducing rope access activities and manned entry into tanks.
- Improve efficiency of EPC maintenance evaluation, planning, and project execution.
Location and Asset
- Pertamina EP, Asset 3, OGT Balongan
- Tank 4, Crude Bulk Oil Storage (37,000 m3)
Pertamina EP, asset 3, OGT balongan: Tank 4
Emesent Hovermap: LIDAR and Autonomy Payload
Key Features and Selection Criteria
- 100m LIDAR Range
- 300,000 points per second (High Resolution LIDAR Scanning)
- SLAM-based LIDAR Mapping & Artificial Intelligence (Localization & Autonomy**)
- 360×360 Omnidirectional Scanning & Computer Vision (Autonomy**)
- GPS-Denied Flight Autonomy**
- Detachable use as a Hand-Held scanner
**NOTE: AUTONOMY** This is the key criteria which makes Emesent LIDAR technology unique and therefore selected because it is singularly well suited to operations in high risk, electromagnetic, asset-intensive and GPS-denied environments. In addition to its capabilities as an omni-directional LIDAR scanner, the Emesent Hovermap payload is also singularly unique as it simultaneously provides the drone with Autonomous navigation capabilities (“Autonomy”). The Emesent Hovermap payload is fully integrated with DJI Enterprise drones (“plug-and-play”), and is able to integrate with the control system of the drone to provide the drone with Autonomy capabilities: as the drone is scanning the environment, the 3D scanning provides the drone with human-like visual intelligence, whereby it allows the drone to localize itself in 3D space and is able to navigate safely to avoid objects and structures – even in electromagnetic, dark, and GPS-denied environments.
Flyability Confined Space Inspection Drone Elios 2
Key Features and Selection Criteria
- Collision-Tolerance Cage & Comprehensive Safety Features
- 4K High Resolution RGB Camera, Thermal IR Camera
- 10,000 Lumen LED: Direct and Oblique Lighting systems
- GPS-denied Stabilization: systems and sensors for stable flight & Distance Lock
- Collision-Tolerance & Safety Features for frequent contact with and inside assets
- Inspector Software for efficient, user-friendly data review and report generation
**NOTE: CONFINED SPACE INSPECTION DRONE* The Elios 2 is the only drone ever to be classified as a “formal inspection tool” by such agencies as Lloyd’s and Bureau Veritas, as it is not only able to enter confined spaces and fly safely, but also engineered specifically to be able to stabilize indoors without GPS, lock specific distance to systematically follow asset structures, and achieve highly systematic, repeatable, Close Visual Inspection imagery results. It is also possible to use a combination of Direct and Oblique lighting to exactly mimic the techniques of manned inspectors using flashlights to identify asset defects. For these reasons, this drone is uniquely well suited for confined space inspection and therefore selected for use in these confined space asset inspection requirements.
Digital Twin: data acquisition was carried out in 1 hour onsite, using the Emesent Hovermap LIDAR payload both as a hand-held scanner, and also mounted to a DJI Enterprise drone, the DJI M210.
Two walking scans were carried out, firstly walking around the outside of the tank; and the second scan by walking around the inside of the asset. The payload was then mounted to a DJI Matrice 210 drone (M210), and a 6-minute flight was conducted around the perimeter and overtop of the asset.*
LIDAR data was then post-processed, taking a total of 4 hours to: (1) align and merge the scans together; (2) “clean up the data” by removing any extraneous points and crop the tank scan area; and (3) save data outputs as .las and .laz files, as well as in common CAD-ready file formats.
Confined Space Inspections: Systematic inspection flights were carried out using the Flyability Elios 2 drone, with 20-22 inspection flights per day, across a 5-day period. Flight plans were prepared to address specific parts and structures, including: tank shell and welds, rafters, girders, joints, and roof. The LIDAR Digital Twin was actually used to extract the tank schematics that were needed for confined space inspection flight planning preparations.**
Inspection imagery data was then processed offsite after confined space inspection process done, into a formal inspection report using Flyability Inspector software. Flyability Inspector is an important software tool used in an inspection workflow to efficiently and simply review large volumes of raw 4K RGB and thermal video output, select Points of Interest (“POI” i.e., inspection findings) and annotate those photos with inspection analysis, generate a fully formatted Inspection Report in Word Document (.docx) format by automatically collating all the POI and inspection annotation into a finished draft document, The total time to review, analyze, and produce the Inspection Report was 14 days, including comprehensive review and inspection annotation by an API-certified inspector.
**INTERESTING NOTE ON AS-BUILT SCHEMATICS**
The mission preparations were challenged precisely because PERTAMINA did not have updated schematics for flight planning – their reference point for all further maintenance activities were 1972 drawings with limited details. This is a common issue faced by brownfield asset managers: outdated as-built information, causing challenges for ongoing asset maintenance management. As part of the working method here, LIDAR data was therefore used to extract, and label, as-built schematics of the roof, shell, and support structures for CVI flight planning. Thereby proving the value of using drones to obtain updated as-built schematics to streamline coordination between asset owners and maintenance contractors – even for other drone operations.
LIDAR: Digital Twin
Quantitative: Data Size and File Formats
Digital Twin: The LIDAR acquisition generated 9 Gigabytes of point cloud data in .las format, which is a standard raw LIDAR data file format. Emesent Hovermap produces data in the following formats: .las .xyz .xyz .xyz. These file formats can be widely used by common CAD tools including AutoCAD, Trueview Cloud, Hexagon Geo.
Learn more about LIDAR technology!
Confined Space Inspection: Produced 760 Gigabytes of inspection video footage. The Elios 2 produces high resolution RGB 4K video at 9 frames/second as the primary output, in .mp4 standard video format; and it also produces Thermal Video files in .thm format. The Flyability Inspector software allows overlay of the Thermal on top of the RGB color result, to compare visual and thermal results in real time (if and when thermal information is required or useful). Raw 4K video data can also be widely used in other software tools, including to extract photos from the data for photogrammetry and asset modeling using common software like Pix4D.
Close Visual Inspection: Elios 2 Cockpit APP – During Operation
Close Visual Inspection (“CVI”) Point of Interest (“POI”) Reporting
CVI – Tank Joint Example (1): Left Side
- 2x Bolts counted.
- Shrinking thickness of steel plating and supports.
- Significant corrosion observed width 0 mm – 67 mm from the Joint.
DISTANCE MEASUREMENT: 67mm +/- 5mm
CVI – Tank Joint Example (2): Right Side
- 2x Bolts counted.
- Significant flaking or oil material deposit observed, build up in joint (67mm height)
- Homogeneous deep corrosion.
- Deformation and exposure of raw metal to oxidation and galvanic reaction observed.
DISTANCE MEASUREMENT: 67mm +/-5mm
CVI REPORT (EXAMPLE): USING FLYABILITY INSPECTOR SOFTWARE
“The results that have been obtained with this drone technology actually exceeded our previous expectations. These types of drone operations will really support preventive maintenance operations, helping us to locate specific defects, provide thecorrect type of maintenance, and ultimately achieve significant increases in speed and accuracy,” – Almuayat Librata – Oil and Gas Transportation Manager – Pertamina EP
“We sincerely believe that implementing this type of drone technology will improve tank inspections, given the potential reduce high risk and high cost activities, while also improveing them to be safer and more efficient.” – Erikson Nainggolan – Operation Planning Assistant Manager – Pertamina EP
This project conclusively demonstrated that, by implementing straightforward drone technology – and in a comparatively short amount of time on site – it is possible to: (1) obtain high resolution 3D scans of a large asset (a Digital Twin for structural modeling and analysis), and; (2) systematically inspect even the largest tanks, to obtain certified from CVI inspection reporting for the entire asset – without any scaffolding, and without manned entry into the tank.
These data outputs have large commercial value for PERTAMINA. Faced with significant safety challenges and high costs of asset inspection – together with additional losses caused by non-productive asset downtime, process inefficiency, and lacking asset information – PERTAMINA stands to benefit significantly from process optimizations that are readily able to be achieved by implementation of this drone technology for asset integrity management, and related EPC projects.
According to PERTAMINA project sponsors, business outcomes supported in this Case Study were:
- Increase efficiency and safety of maintenance inspection.
- Reduce costly, time-consuming inconsistencies between asset owners and EPC contractors.
- Enable systematic, repeatable inspection of aging assets for long-term analysis.
- Reduce manned entry into tanks, with the goal to eliminate it completely.
This White Paper takes the position that broader global relevance is established for asset managers faced with identical challenges for identical assets: like the PERTAMINA tank in this study, API 650 and API 620 tanks are used as a global standard for bulk crude oil and liquid hydrocarbon products, and therefore, this drone technology is likely to produce similarly positive results when addressing any similar API tank inspection and maintenance EPC requirement.
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