Offshore Cleaning Systems (OCS), based in Abbeville, Louisiana, has developed the Industrobot H5, a specialized version of its Industrobot (patent pending) series of cleaning tools. Industrobots are a unique collection of several commonly used products and processes. The H5 version is designed for large, above-ground tanks that contain hazardous materials or environments for human workers. it has strength capabilities that human workers don’t possess, and can potentially save lives.
In September 2012, the H5 underwent its inaugural drive at an above-ground storage facility in Grand Isle, Louisiana. Shortly after, OCS hired Chapman Consulting Inc., an engineering and project management firm, to analysis the device. The study included a controlled comparison between the capabilities of the H5 versus traditional manned cleaning methods. The raw data suggest that removing 4,831 bbls of product from a tank in 2012 using the H5 took 150 hours. The robot made its entry on September 20 and completed bulk removal on October 9. In 2009, removing only 3,040 bbls of product from a similar tank with a manned team took about 300 hours.
The H5 was able to complete the bulk removal phase using only 16 percent of the man hours compared to a conventional manned cleaning job.
The successful robotic cleaning job reduced the process time period and used fewer men. Technicians controlled the operation from an air-conditioned cabin outfitted with a control panel and a comfortable bucket seat while wielding tools at pressures and cubic feet per minute (CFM) that would be dangerous, and possibly lethal, to men.
The Chapman Consulting Inc. test concluded the following:
“The introduction of the Industrobot is proving to be a powerful tool in the industry. In recent history, a focus on conducting operations in the oil and gas industry to the highest degree of safety and environmentally friendly manner possible is both a necessity and a mandate. It is abundantly clear that there are opportunities for the Industrobot at this very time to perform cleaning projects in such a way that will net (1) a higher degree of safety and lower incident rate, and (2) a reduction in water consumption that is better for the environment. The market is there for this technology, and both the oil and gas industry and its hard-working, dedicated employees should welcome it with open arms.”
"The bottom line has conventionally been the driver behind R&D [research and development] efforts," explains OCS CEO Kenny DesOrmeaux, "but we're now experiencing an evolution in thinking that is being driven by safety and health. Thanks to our investors, over the course of three years, we've developed a system that will allow us to not only to help ensure safety, but also to maintain our leadership position as well."
DesOrmeaux knows about pioneering new tools and processes: his patented SandSweeper system was an innovative alternative to conventional separator cleaning in the early 1990s, thus preventing production loss and downtime. Also, OCS was the first company in the Gulf of Mexico to introduce steam generation as a means of de-gassing (it owns and maintains the largest fleet in the Gulf) and it remains the only company in the world to design and utilize their own custom salt water-resistant air compressors.
“In the past fifteen years, OCS has maintained an average Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) of 0.27, with six of those years being an impressive 0.00. OCS’s 2012 Experience Modifier Rating (EMR) is a 0.95,” DesOrmeaux adds. “Many companies boast safety as their top priority, but OCS has demonstrated this on a continual basis since its focus has changed to the vessel and tank-cleaning side of the industry in 2004.”
Historically, confined space entry in hazardous environments (containing or producing life-threatening atmospheres) has meant intense exposure to liability and towering insurance costs. One industry professional has already called OCS's new tool "a game-changer."
"If we can provide confined space entry services while reducing human entry and do it at, or near, the price," says DesOrmeaux. "This will help us continue our company history of innovation and safety.”
Adaptations of the Industrobot can be useful for tank farm operators, refinery maintenance managers, marine transport managers, exploration companies, militaries, nuclear energy producers, and beyond. Possible applications include but are certainly not limited to: potable water and/or municipal water storage supply cleaning, marine related tankage and crawl spaces on sea-going vessels, barges, and tankers. Other applications that have yet to be tested include, but, again, are not limited to: hazardous material clean-up and/or abatement (asbestos, lead, radioactive, etc.) in hard-to-access areas or areas in which the threat to personnel safety is increased or in which rescue may prove difficult.
Offshore Cleaning Systems was founded in 1998 as an equipment rental and sales company. In 2004, the company expanded its scope and range to include cleaning services. Since that time, the company has evolved into a leading provider of alternative cleaning solutions for offshore oil and gas industry.