Abstract

Rapid advances in robotics and Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) have the potential to revolutionize the way maintenance, inspection and Non-Destructive Testing within our industry is performed. This would make plant operation safer, by reducing exposure of personnel to hazardous environments and is likely to introduce more reliable inspection and maintenance routines. In addition, introduction of these technologies can provide significant economic benefits for the industry, particularly in mature basin assets with declining production rates, mainly through reduction of plant down time and increased asset life.

Despite these obvious advantages, industry acceptance of these new technologies is likely to be slow. Previous experience with other innovations in our industry has shown that typically it takes at least 20 years for new methods to be adopted as standard work practices. This is an enormous waste in unharvested economic potential and potentially avoidable injuries, or loss of life, at a juncture where the industry is under great pressure to improve its safety record and operate more efficiently.

Causes of slow industry adoption of new robotic technologies will be analysed and a novel approach for significant speed-up of market adoption through end-user led collaboration across the value chain is described in this paper. This approach is currently put to the test by a new global non-profit industry platform: The SPRINT Robotics Collaborative, founded in 2015. The SPRINT Robotics Collaborative has produced its first version of a Roadmap for introduction of key Robotic Technologies. The Roadmap has been developed from input from the entire value chain active in various areas of the Petrochemical industry; as such their input is representative for this industry.

In short, the ‘Robotics Roadmap’ sets dots on the horizon and sketches the way to get to these landmarks. It serves to:

  • Align the industry on goals and priorities.

  • Share knowledge and insight with potentially contributing parties from the entire value chain.

  • Enable innovators, technologists and researchers to effectively and structurally contribute to the solution of problems relevant to the petrochemical industry.

  • Prepare the end users (asset owners), so they can adapt new asset designs and (operational) procedures for the uptake of the technological advances.

  • Inform policy makers about the changing landscape, to which they can respond.

In the SPRINT Robotics Roadmap input from the entire value chain is brought together.

In addition to the roadmap, this paper will discuss the achievements and challenges from the first two years of operation of the SPRINT Robotics collaborative; providing real world examples of full value chain collaboration and deployment of robotic technologies.

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