Underground Tank Inspection
Confined Space Entry Required
Leak Alert Triggers Inspection in Hazardous Area
A leak detection alert was triggered from the bottom of an underground vaulted tank at a large manufacturing facility. The aging tank was used to capture accidental chemical overflow from the shop floor, which had the potential to shut down the facility, as was the case with the large chemical spill a few years prior. The inspection team was blind to what contaminants or debris might be present in the tank vault from the earlier spill, and from decades of use. It was not safe to enter the tank vault, though an inspection was necessary.
Keeping Employees Safe
The company’s EHS (environmental, health and safety) policy required that in a confined or hazardous space, the team must enlist primary and backup resources, provide specific training to the employees, ensure that PPE was worn, and have an emergency response team and vehicle ready at the site in case of an accident. The policy aimed to reduce the need for employees to enter confined spaces and unsafe areas, and to ensure the utmost safety when entry was unavoidable. In this case, the potential safety risk and the requirements for working in confined spaces prompted the company to use an inspection tool instead of its employees to perform the inspection. The Guardian® S robot was recruited for the task.
Navigating Rough Terrain to Find the Source
Despite 20+ years of debris buildup in the tank vault, including silt, metal shavings, chemicals, broken pipe, and water, the Guardian S robot navigated the vault floor taking pictures and streaming high-definition video to the teams watching live from the shop. The robot found water seepage on the outside of the tank wall and followed the water trail back to a misrouted drainage pipe that had triggered the leak detection alert.
Returning from the successful mission, the Guardian S robot stopped to perform a precautionary corrosion inspection of the bottoms of the overhead stainless-steel tanks, lifting its head and upper body to survey the dipping trays at their corner seams revealing no structural damage. With a successful remote visual inspection completed in just two hours, the robot safely returned to its operator.
RVI Keeps Employees Out of Danger
The root cause of the leak detection alert was discovered, without a single employee required to enter the confined space. Clear visibility into the condition of the tank vault throughout the inspection allowed for more efficient and safe maintenance planning, saving time and money.
32 labor hours were saved using the Guardian S robot to complete the remote visual inspection, guided by a single operator. Prior, it would have taken four employees an entire day. In addition, the company saved the employee training, back up resources and emergency crew costs it would have incurred had the employees entered the confined space.