MacLean Electrical helps deliver solution for world’s first commercial robot for catalyst removal

February 19, 2020

MacLean Electrical helps deliver solution for world’s first commercial robot for catalyst removal

 ADVISIAN DIGITAL is the data, science, software and technology consulting arm of Worley – The Australian engineering company which provides project delivery and consulting services to the resources and energy sectors, as well as complex process industries.

In 2017 they developed CAROL, the world’s first commercial robot for catalyst unloading from refinery and petrochemical vessels.  Previously carried out by contractors wearing breathing apparatus, this is a potentially dangerous procedure, and one with a history of fatal accidents.

CAROL is a lightweight, highly precise hydraulic robot, equipped with cameras for remote operation.  It minimises the time spent by workers in confined spaces, reduces the risk to human life and improves productivity and efficiency, as well as reducing downtime and being able to operate in conditions not suitable for human entry.

The Challenge

A brightly lit environment is needed as the robot relies on camera footage to move around in the confined space – but the tanks are pitch-black.  The Zone 1 Hazardous Area rating means fully certified ATEX or IECEx lights must be used.  In operation, these lights need to be small enough to fit through the manway and not weigh too much for a single person lift.

Initially, drop lights were suspended into the vessels, but they did not emit enough light to illuminate the whole tank and light quality was inconsistent due to the swaying of the lamps.

It soon became clear that a more powerful and stable, Zone 1 IEC Ex/ATEX certified light was required to take the fullest advantage of CAROL’s unique performance capability.

The Solution

Chris Jansen, a Product Manager with Advisian, approached MacLean Electrical (Australia) Pty Ltd (Wolf Safety’s partner in Australia) to find an effective solution to the problem.

Following an assessment of the issues facing CAROL’s operators, an innovative solution using Wolf’s market leading hazardous area WF-300®XL flood light and powerful HT-650 headtorch was proposed.

The WF-300®XL would be mounted to the vessel manway flange, adjacent to the “top of vessel” camera, and directed downwards to provide lighting in the vessel, whilst the HT-650 head torch would be attached to the robot to provide additional close-up light.

Trials proved successful, with the greatly improved lighting making the robot operator’s task significantly easier and helping to increase efficiency by improving catalyst removal rate.  The solution has subsequently been adopted on a permanent basis in the field.

Benefits

Chris has confirmed the success of using the Wolf solution and the ongoing reliability of the Wolf lamps in operation, with the following benefits:

  • The WF-300®XL floodlight, at over 6,000 lumens emitted from the lamp, is powerful enough to brightly illuminate the whole tank
  • The floodlight, being IECEx and ATEX Zone 1 certified, and the headtorch, being Zone 0 certified, fulfil the safety requirements for the hazardous area lighting
  • The floodlight is small enough to fit through the vessels’ manways and lightweight enough for a one-person lift
  • The gland on the WF-300®XL allowed it to be easily hooked into the same junction box as the overhead camera and to use a common  power/video cable from the safe area
  • The HT-650 head torch, attached adjacent to the robot’s vacuum nozzle, provides essential additional lighting which gives the operator a clear video image, allowing fine adjustments to be made to the vacuum nozzle to maximise the efficiency of catalyst removal

Chris Jansen is a Product Manager for Advisian Digital (Worley Group)

MacLean Electrical (Australia) Pty Ltd is Wolf Safety’s partner in Australia

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