Sky Visualizer Robot— an aerial visual inspection robot that increases the level of safety in the petrochemical industry

Date: 13 Sep 2016

            In the petrochemical industry, plant equipment and machinery require regular inspection. One of the most critical equipment is a flare stack. At the height of 30-150 meters — the equivalent of a 40-storey building—and constantly blazing flares at its tip, human inspection is not possible during normal operations. First, the temperature at the tip of the stack can be up to 1,300 °C, and the inspection can only be done when plant is shut down during turnaround, which means that it can be done only once every 5-6 years. Moreover, manual inspection is dangerous as the inspectors have to climb up to the flare tip and work at great height in the areas that are hard to access. As a proponent of safety innovation initiatives, SCG Chemicals, a manufacturer and distributor of comprehensive chemical products which conducts its business with concern for society, has researched and developed the Sky Visualizer Robot—a flying inspection robot which provides greater safety for both operators and communities.

           

            Although drones or unmanned aerial vehicles are widely used in many industries nowadays, the use of normal drones in petrochemical plant can pose great risks to safety due to the lack of safety systems. For instance, if mistakes are made either from improper manual control of the drone or loss of control during flight, the drone might crash into an area causing damage to the petrochemical plant, local communities or public roads, which can potentially result in damage to property and loss of life. In contrast, the Sky Visualizer Robot has been developed to be able to work in autopilot mode with an emphasis on safety. The flight plan can be set ahead of time so as to prevent the robot from going into dangerous areas or low-signal spots. The flight plan is also configurable during the flight. Most importantly, the Sky Visualizer Robot comes with an effective safety system that eliminates the risks that may exist during a manually-controlled flight.

 

The safety features of the Sky Visualizer Robot are unique and different from ordinary drones in that:

1. The flight plan can be set ahead of time so as to prevent it from flying into risky or low-signal spots

2. Programmable invisible walls prevent robot from flying out of safety area and a safe crash zone can be predefined.

3. Automatic “Return Home” function allows the robot to return to the starting point in cases where the control signal is lost or the battery is weak.  

4. The controller can switch to manual mode if the autopilot should malfunction or there is no GPS signal

5. It has been designed to be virtually failure-proof, featuring multiprocessor, multi-frequency operations and a high-precision dual-source GPS system.

 

            With its outstanding features, the Sky Visualizer Robot is able to fly to inspect flare stacks in petrochemical plants without the need to shut down the operation of the entire plant. This helps save time and cost, but more importantly, it is safer for both factory workers and people in the surrounding communities. The Sky Visualizer Robot has already proven its efficiency and safety in the inspection of SCG Chemicals plants. However, SCG Chemicals is not going to stop there and will continue to develop the Sky Visualizer Robot to achieve even better performance so that it can be used in other industries in the future.

 

For more information please contact Mr. Piyavudh Vonglertvidhya at Industrial Solutions. Email: piyavudv@scg.com