Robots are in Charge in Tüpraş for Safe Working

Tüpraş benefits from the latest digital applications in periodical controls of oil storage tanks and for measurements at meters of high as a part of its Robotic Roadmap. The Company, which has undersigned a pioneering practice by commissioning drone cameras in risky areas of work at refinery sites, supports its work processes focusing on “safety” approach, which the Company considers as its most fundamental value, with state-of-the-art digital technologies.

Undersigning innovative and pioneer practices in the energy industry as a part of digital transformation journey, Tüpraş uses robots for periodical controls of deep storage tanks full of oil and equipment located at meters of high. Now it is possible to control storage tanks without putting them in out of service status thanks to Online Tank Robotic Control Method, and the Company is capable to strengthen its work processes in terms of safety.

Robots eliminate the risk to work at height. Technical controls performed by humans for periodical control of equipment located at meters of high by using lifting equipment and construction scaffolds are now undertaken by robots equipped with visual and special sensors. These robots provide a safe environment that eliminates risks, and the thicknesses of pipelines and equipment located at high places that are difficult to reach can now be measured easily.

Pressurized Equipment and Storage Tanks are periodically controlled by Robotic Remote Visual Inspection. A specially equipped drone, which also has a control software specifically for the area of use and which is designed for confined spaces, is used for “Remote Visual Inspection by Drones” method.

These robots minimize the need for human workforce in confined spaces and eliminate the risks and difficulties of the process by replacing humans in pressurized equipment that are 5 to 40 meters high and in oil storage tanks that are 15 to 18 meters deep. High-resolution images and sensor data taken from each point of equipment in the confined space are evaluated and detailed examinations are made by 3D modeling as a part of remote visual inspections performed by drones.

Invisible obstacles can be found by Online Tank Robotic Control Method. A specially equipped and track type robot in conformity with ATEX class is used in “Online Tank Robotic Control Method,” another technology commissioned as a part of digitalization, and it allows controlling storage tanks for petroleum products without putting them in out-of-service status.

Obstacles that might be encountered within the tank are easily identified and eliminated thanks to 3D sonar, sensors, and cameras equipped on the robot. Periodical controls of the tank base, the most critical component of storage tanks, are performed visually and by MFL and UT technologies, which are recognized as the most effective method in the world, by mapping the entire tank with its special software.

Periodical controls of storage tanks, which may last 7 months on average by the traditional method of decommissioning and recommissioning of each tank, can now be completed in almost 1 month thanks to online tank robotic control method, and any maintenance and repairing work to be performed without decommissioning the tank can be scheduled in advance based on the results of Robotic Control.

“We aim to support human workforce with safety-focused digital applications by using robotic technologies.” Providing information about robotic site practices, which were commissioned in Izmit refinery initially, Metin Tüfekçioğlu, İzmit Refinery Manager, said, “Safety is our most important value. We act with the motto of “Safety Is My Future” by putting “People First” in all our work processes. We expect all our employees and solution partners to comply unconditionally with our Health, Safety, Environment (HSE) and Process Safety Standards. We are providing a working environment for our employees that enable them to perform their works without any requirement to enter into risky areas by benefiting from. As robotic technologies become widespread in our refinery sites, our main purpose is to support human workforce with digital applications focused on safety. So, we aim to use our human resource in critical decision-making processes by improving their knowledge, experience, and capabilities while using robotic technologies for repeating and risky works. We also aim to increase productivity and performance by saving our resources and time.”

Tüfekçioğlu added the following for the use of robotic workforce in oil tanks and work at height, which requires lifting equipment or scaffolds: “We work with all our power to commission the practices that we have developed by taking the health of our employees into consideration, which will eliminate the use of physical human workforce in risky areas, and so we will be able to prevent the indications that might not be noticed due to difficult conditions of visual inspections within the tanks. It will also be possible to conduct objective and repeatable inspections. The data collected by robots, which are designed specifically for this purpose, will make it easy for us to take clear decisions in critical points, and these controls will enable us to perform our maintenance works in a more detailed and secure manner within a shorter period. They may also be used as a reference for periodical controls to be made in the future, and it will also be possible for us to examine comparable data. We will save time by a minimum of 10 to 20 percent in scheduled shutdowns of units and tanks."

Stating that pioneering technologies of Tüpraş are considered as a model for the industry also in international platforms, Tüfekçioğlu said, “Some of our practices are the first of their kind in the refining industry of our country. We share our example practices with international platforms, too. We are a member of SPRINT Robotics, an organization that encourages the development and implementation of robotic technology for maintenance and inspection works to be performed in manufacturing facilities with difficult working conditions, such as refineries. So, we can seize opportunities, such as launching joint industrial projects for R&D and market innovation, tracking innovations in robotic technologies, creating a strategic road map, benefiting from the experience of this platform that includes relevant companies, and accessing an online information network.”