Fintan Duffy, Managing Director at Re-Gen Robotics discusses how their state-of-the-art, explosion-proof, Ex Zone 0 rated tank cleaning robots are setting new standards in safe, environmentally friendly, cost-efficient tank cleaning.
Tank entry is widely recognised as being one of the most hazardous operations in the tank cleaning business and every year as many as 200 people across Europe, lose their lives working in confined spaces.
Traditionally personnel have been required to enter hazardous oil tank environments to implement inspections, de-sludge and clean for product change. Here, they face the risk of exposure to hazardous petrochemicals, heat stress, slips and falls. And although safety regulations and industry standards are high, occasionally fatal accidents do occur, owing to human error and failure of safety devices.
Current Health & Safety legislation stipulates that ‘a person shall not carry out work in confined spaces if it is reasonably practical that it can be avoided’. Companies can no longer afford to be negligent where human life is concerned and fortunately, there is a very real appetite across the board for new, safer methods of cleaning, inspection and assessment.
Tank owners had instructed cleans to be postponed, until a solution was found that guaranteed the health and safety of their personnel and now the industry’s early adopters are embracing our robotic technology, as the long-awaited alternative to ‘man entry’ cleaning.
Applying fully integrated, no man entry, closed-loop robotic tank cleaning technology, is where a monumental difference can be made to safety in the petrochemical industry and we are confident that it will be adopted as best practice. Our automated robots, in combination with competent staff, eliminates confined space entry, cleans safely, with precision and efficiency. This creates a tremendous logistics cost and risk-benefit for tank owners.
Within less than a year of launching, Re-Gen Robotics won the Safety Technology Award at the 2020 Global Tank Storage Awards, in Rotterdam, on 10th of March. The 13 strong judging panel of industry stalwarts, recognised Re-Gen Robotic’s technology and service, in revolutionising safety in the tank terminal industry.
In Spring 2019, Re-Gen Robotics launched the first and only Zone 0 EX Certified, remote-controlled, ‘No Man Entry’ robotic tank cleaning company in the British Isles. We invested £2.5 million in creating three purpose-built, Ex Zone 0 rated robots. The large robots are designed to fit through a standard 600mm entry hatch via an extending ramp and de-sludge, wash and clean large-scale tanks, including fixed roof and floating roof tanks.
The robot has the power to clean the largest oil tanks with no hassle and can handle heavy fuel oil, crude oil, sludge and the like. Once cleaning is complete, the robot safely exits the container via its ramp and is returned to the control unit.
A smaller, compact robot is suitable for use on smaller sites and underground fuel storage tanks and containers. The small robot can move through a 450mm entry hatch, ideal for use in petrol forecourts, interceptors and process tanks.
Regardless of the nature of the vessels, i.e. vertical, horizontal, over ground or underground, Re-Gen Robotics has the solution for non-man entry tank cleaning. The robots are designed to operate in the most inhospitable environments and with specialised access cranes, remote camera systems and engineering expertise, any size or shape of tank can be cleaned.
Our vision, to become the most efficient, safe and reliable tank cleaning service provider to the petrochemical industry, by completely eliminating confined space entry, has come to pass.
Re-Gen Robotic’s unique, closed-loop cleaning system can reduce cleaning time by up to 45%, significantly decreasing downtime and loss of production whilst oil tanks are not operational.
The Ex-zone rated equipment is effective, reliable and provides predictable cleaning times, meaning the tank is brought back into operation quicker and reduces the need for additional tank capacity, permit delays and additional support teams.
Safety and protection of personnel during tank cleaning services are of the utmost importance. At no time during the Re-Gen Robotics cleaning process is there a requirement for human presence in the confined storage container. Our technical operator remains a safe distance away in the Zone 1 control unit, where they can monitor activity and progress, through a series of ATEX cameras fixed to the robot, inside the tank being cleaned.
The unique features of the large robot make it ideal for cleaning the storage tanks. A combination of specially designed 3,500 PSI jetting water nozzles, powered by a high-pressure low flow pump, play a vital part in the cleaning process.
The auger system at the front of the robot breaks down heavy sludge without the requirement to use water, thereby generating less waste. Sludge is then extracted by an ADR certified jet/vac tanker with 4,800 C/ m3 per hour vacuum capacity.
The efficiency of the clean is crucial to planning schedules and means that the tanks can be brought back into operation sooner than manual cleaning. It also removes the need for additional tank capacity, permit delays and additional support teams.
Using a fully contained waste removal and a 360-degree cleaning process, the waste material is transported off-site using an ADR tanker and safely treated in an authorised, licensed facility.
The entire tank cleaning operation is recorded on CCTV from the ATEX cameras and is made available to the client upon completion of the works. All files are date and time stamped to ensure the process is traceable for auditing purposes.
A record of gas detection readings is also issued on completion of each vessel cleaning, produced by the onboard gas monitoring equipment.
Re-Gen Robotics is providing a realistic and proven alternative to ‘man entry’ tank cleaning. The health and safety of personnel engaged in tank cleaning is paramount. Using robotic equipment to carry out works in hazardous confined spaces is the most logical and safe way to clean tanks.
Terminal and refinery operators can be assured that they have mitigated the risks associated with confined space tank cleaning, as far as is reasonably practicable, when they engage a contractor that has invested in the right equipment to clean their tanks.
For more information visit www.regenrobotics.com