Local Precise Machining In The Oil And Gas Industry: A case study

Local Precise Machining In The Oil And Gas Industry: A case study

Adequate inspection of assets within the oil & gas industry is a constant challenge. A failure to identify and address breaks and blockages in the integrity of equipment brings about a variety of unwanted issues, including reduced lifespan and the potential for catastrophic events.

The following looks at an individual case that represented a particularly demanding inspection scenario and the use of precise machining and 3D printing technology to design and manufacture a simple to use solution. This was courtesy of solutions-based equipment provider, Nexxis, and Perth precision machine specialists, SixDe.

The Challenge

The asset in question was a waste heat recovery unit. The configuration was that of a larger pipe with an array of narrow headers perpendicular to this. This meant it was impossible to manoeuvre a regular camera unit around the corner to carry out the inspection process.

The Considerations

The configuration required a robust solution that was able to be controlled remotely. While the asset owners had provided a blueprint of the vessel, it was likely that the entry point for each header might be at a slightly different heights. Therefore, the ability to adjust the trajectory of the inspection camera was vital. It was also essential that any design wouldn’t have any risk of leaving anything inside the tubes, as such a scenario could lead to a complete shutdown of the asset and surrounding components.

The inspection unit needed to be strong enough to cope, lightweight and small enough to fit into tubes that were only 6” in diameter. There were many components to the system, meaning fitting this into such a small diameter particularly challenging.

The Solution

An innovative approach saw the construction of a bespoke crawler system. This was created from scratch and consisted of two crawlers, each fitted with a robust pulley system so that it could be retrieved in case the crawler lost power.

The first was a larger unit that traversed the length of the pipe. The second was a smaller one that docked to this and could be driven down each individual header tube. A platform was included to allow for the variability of the header entry points. This meant the small crawler could be raised and lowered to facilitate smooth entry.

Both crawlers were built using a track system to ensure adequate pulling strength for each application. Lightweight, they were constructed onto a custom 3D printed chassis to the exact size and on tilted to the correct angle that ensured they could fit into a 6” pipe. The whole system was anodised for strength.

To allow for adequate external visualisation, multiple cameras were fitted. The main crawler had an overview camera to allow the operator a full line of sight to align the smaller one into the header nozzles. The second crawler was fitted with front and rear cameras, with the former having a pan and tilt function to allow the operator to view any area during the inspection. The rear was a straight camera to provide ease of docking as the crawler reversed out of the header tube.

Full training was provided and the unit was combined with user-friendly software offering outstanding data collection. This provided easy comparison to past and future inspections for the complete lifecycle of the asset.

The Vital Role of Precision Machine Parts

The use of precision machine parts is crucial for such bespoke design to take place and gives the ability for intricate construction – especially important when it comes to unique and challenging internal dimensions. This allows highly accurate assembly of complex structures to overcome such a challenge.

Perth-based SixDe is a leading provider of precision machine parts and is dedicated to servicing local, national and international needs. For more information visit www.sixde.com.au or give us a call on 08 9434 1112.