Applus+ RVIS applies design thinking to award winning remote visual inspection solutions


    Design thinking is a creative approach to product development whereby products are designed from an empathetic customer perspective. At the heart of design thinking is an emphasis on the user experience, with users being involved early in the design process. Applus RVIS uses design thinking in its strategy to create award winning remote visual inspections.

    In the oil and gas industry, design thinking has been gaining popularity with the emergence of the digital revolution. Companies are starting to introduce analytics for deeper insights that enable smarter decisions and help operators to boost their productivity. As Applus+ RVIS identified a need for remote inspection solutions centered around the user, design thinking is applied to create inspection solutions that decrease costs while optimising compliance.
    Applus+ RVIS starts with an assessment of a client’s inspection problem, then a solution is ideated, tested and implemented. In the implementation phase, service procedures are also designed according to the client’s asset requirements and inspection needs. Newly developed tools and how they are used can also be adapted to other clients’ premises and inspection needs.
    This way, the customer is engaged on an ongoing basis, receiving relevant information in real time during all stages, from initial assessment to implementation. Below are some examples of where we have taken this approach:
    CU24: designed and adapted based on client needs
    In 2015, Dennis Van Iersel, Programme Manager at Shell Pernis, was looking for remote solutions for the inspection of pipe racks. His goal was to reduce maintenance costs and one way of doing this was to speed up pipe-rack inspections. Dennis thought of drones first as they usually involve little or no downtime. He invited Applus+ RVIS team as experts in drone technologies, to discuss the possibility of using drones for remote inspection. To Dennis’ surprise, we did not encourage the use of drones in this case. Instead, we suggested customising a stabilised crane, mounted with an HD camera, specifically for use in pipe-rack inspections.
    While the use of drones can be limited due to exhaustive rules and regulations, cranes are standardly used on industrial sites. The people at Shell welcomed the innovative idea and the technical team got on with developing the new tool, which later became known as the “CU24”.
    CU 24 features: rain resistant dual sensor, HD and IR cameras.
    The CU 24 can reach heights up to 24 m, it is rain resistant to keep the same productivity in rainy climate such as in Northern Europe and it has a dual sensor. An HD camera with 50X optical zoom permits the magnification of damages from a distance. An IR camera provides thermal data for detecting temperature variations, heat losses and gas leaks.
    The CU24 has been successful in diagnosing coating failure, corrosion, fire-proofing, loss of containment, pitting, wall losses and heat losses on pipe racks, trenches and their supporting structures.
    Benefits for our clients and the commercial success award
    The CU24 proved 5X faster than conventional inspection methods and thus decreased inspection costs considerably. It won the commercial success award at Shell Pernis, the biggest refinery in Europe. The CU24 results also in indirect cost savings in addition to its safety benefits. The CU24 can be used to quickly scan the condition of pipe racks, pipelines and trenches to avoid exhaustive scaffolding and closing the roads and passages. By using the CU24 our clients are able to carry out a quick assessment and establish priorities for detailed inspection. This allows setting the long-term strategy for maintenance according to condition and risk. Thus the CU24 empowers our clients’ maintenance program with the maximum use of resources. Safety is also improved since working at height is avoided during the inspection. Slipping and other accidents risks are decreased and therefore compliance is optimised.
    It is the ambition of Applus+ RVIS to eliminate the need for people to work in dangerous situations and to reduce the number of accidents by automating inspections and enhancing the quality of remote visual inspections.
    “In order to carry out effective maintenance, we have to innovate”, says Daan Hartge, Technical Team Lead at Applus+ RVIS. “We need to work together with artificial intelligence. We can develop remote tools to replace humans based on client needs where dangerous or repetitive work is required, while avoiding unnecessary shutdowns.”
    The Applus+ RVIS team provides remote solutions for inspections in the oil and gas, construction, utilities and chemical industries. With a highly skilled technical team, Applus+ RVIS uses the most efficient tools for the asset in question, based on the client’s inspection goals and their location. We can customise drones for high-rise facilities, send ground tools or crawlers when necessary and use different cameras and sensors according to the specific inspection goals. The information gathered allows the client’s team to plan maintenance work one step at a time, based on their own priorities and without compromising production.

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