Rachel Doornekamp | August 21st, 2020
While inspections and cleaning are necessary for safe and effective submerged infrastructure, interruption of service to conduct inspections is a costly and time consuming venture.
Not only is the infrastructure shut down and unable to generate profit, it takes significant amounts of time, money and personnel to take the equipment out of service and then back into service following the inspection.
With a Deep Trekker vehicle, inspections can take place without taking systems offline, saving organizations significant amounts of time and money.
Read on to hear from three different organizations about how keeping systems online during inspections helped them optimize their operations.
At Ontario Power Generation the use of an ROV consistently allows teams to inspect submerged infrastructure without taking systems completely offline. Che Swearengen , a Commercial Inspection and Maintenance Diver at OPG, shared two specific cases with Deep Trekker where he and his team were able to keep systems up and running during necessary inspections.
The first case involved the inspection of an injection water service tank. These large underground tanks house the heavy water used for water injection. In order to meet regulatory guidelines, these tanks must be inspected consistently. Swearengen and his team made the call to use an ROV in lieu of a diver to complete the inspection. In addition to providing a safe alternative in an environment with significant amounts of radiation, the use of the ROV was the quickest and most cost-effective option.
“In this instance, costs and safety were the two driving factors. With regards to safety it was the human factor, there was no radiation and no work protection involved for shutting down the systems. Essentially we did this in a hold-op, we informed the station owners that we were going to be doing the inspection and they did not operate any pumps while we were in there. It saves quite a bit of time from trying to lock them all out and going through a lockout, tagout procedure. The other portion of that was the safety. This was a great tool to get in there and do inspection while maintaining cost and safety for everybody.”
With the use of the ROV for inspection operators did not have to go through the expensive and time consuming process of conducting a lockout, tagout procedure - the station owners simply did not operate any pumps while the ROV was working.
Swearengen also shared a case that took place at OPG’s Pickering Unit 6. There was a known leak on a calandria however the exact location could not be determined. Housing all of the fuel bundles, the calandria is surrounded by heavy water.
Not only was the ROV used to successfully locate and seal the leak, it was able to do so without draining the asset. “The driving factor here was that there was no access to actually get in and do the inspection. There was also fuel still inside the reactor core - which is the calandria - so the radiation dosage was extremely high making it unreachable for humans. We were able to actually access this with the ROV and go down around the core with the fuel bundles and get to the bottom of the tank and continue with the inspection to find the leakage area. The ROV saved significant amounts of money in this mission as it was unnecessary to shut the unit down, dewatering and unfuel the unit with the vehicle entering the water in lieu of human divers.”
As the team did not have to completely shut down all operations they were able to save significant amounts of both time and money.
Dan and Jo Hulands of The Tank Inspectors use Deep Trekker vehicles extensively in their services. With over 30 years of direct water tank construction and liner installation experience, The Tank Inspectors offer a variety of tank inspection and cleaning services complete with comprehensive reports and video footage. Used by clients ranging from fire management agencies to asset management firms to mining companies, the The Tank Inspectors reduce OH&S risks with robotic solutions.
Using the DT640 VAC, The Tank Inspectors are able to thoroughly inspect and clean a variety of tanks for their clients. The DT640 VAC has numerous benefits for The Tank Inspectors. Travelling across Australia consistently, the Hulands noted the portability and reliability of the utility vehicle. Furthermore, the robot offers a safe and convenient alternative to divers.
With the DT640, tank cleanings can take place without interrupting service or draining tanks. Interrupting service is incredibly inconvenient and disruptive for an organization, while draining tanks can be costly and time-consuming with services often offline for weeks at a time as a result. “With an ROV, tanks do not need to be drained or taken out of service,” Jo pointed out. Adding to this she mentioned that “minimizing water loss and saving resources is very important.” By avoiding unnecessary tank draining, resources can be preserved as much as possible.
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SCE is a leader in water and wastewater utility engineering, offering client’s innovative solutions utilizing the latest technological advancements. While aiming to always provide the appropriate engineering solutions to each system’s situation, SCE solves tough problems by developing custom, complete and cost-effective project approaches to meet the specific needs of their clients. SCE represents various municipal and private water and wastewater system throughout the nation and is committed to exceeding expectations on every project.
SCE uses their vehicle primarily for water storage tank inspections. “The ROV is critical in providing inspection and condition assessment of water storage tank interiors, while maintaining normal system operations,” shared Michael McAloon, PE, Water/Wastewater Department Manager. By using an ROV for inspections, SCE can conduct safe, cost-effective assessments without shutting down tank operations.
McAloon shared that “maintaining a tank in service is the biggest benefit to our clients.” By keeping tanks in service, users are able to save the time and money that would otherwise be required to take the tanks out of service and then put them back to work following the inspection.
Huntley’s Sub Aqua Construction (HSAC) is a commercial diving company based in Kentville, Nova Scotia, Canada. Operating since 1994, HSAC recently added a Deep Trekker mini remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to their team to improve potable water and reservoir inspections.
HSAC consists of a team of 6 highly trained divers experienced in everything from underwater welding, inspections, cleaning and maintenance. Their acquisition of Deep Trekker’s DTG2 ROV unit has allowed HSAC to significantly reduce costs associated with performing services for their client base.
Huntley’s Sub Aqua Construction has been providing marine communities with commercial diving services for over 20 years and have integrated a specialised focus in potable water tank and reservoir inspections for the past decade. HSAC explains that frequent potable water tank and reservoir inspections are important to maintain and improve water quality, extend the service life of the reservoir and/or structures, and to provide peace of mind.
Over time, sediment can build up in storage facilities and compromise the quality of the water and the structural integrity of tanks may also be depleted. By performing regular inspections, maintenance can be carried out at the first sign of necessity reducing potential costs for the plant operators. After years of completing inspections with divers, HSAC recently added the Deep Trekker ROV to their arsenal of tools to perform inspection tasks.
Mike Huntley, from Huntley Sub Aqua Construction, took the time to comment on how the ROV has improved their potable water tank and reservoir inspections. “Using the Deep Trekker just makes things a lot easier, a lot more efficient and a lot cheaper. Both for the client and myself”. He explained that due to commercial diving regulations, a dive inspection requires a team of four divers to be on site, as opposed to the ROV which requires one operator. This can increase per inspection costs by $3000.00 compared to using the underwater drone because of the time, equipment and preparation required before divers get in the water.
Huntley also explains that while it is possible to use divers in potable water tank inspections, the ROV is much easier to disinfect and offers more peace of mind to the client. Everything is sealed and contained within the ROV so there are is less maintenance, preparation and follow up required to ensure that the equipment is ready for an inspection.
In addition to potable water tank and reservoir inspections, HSAC has used their Deep Trekker ROV to do wharf inspections and maintenance. They are planning on using their underwater drone to complete more of these tasks in the future. Mike Huntley commented that “It’s a rugged, tough piece of equipment that can handle bumping around a wharf.”
Mike Huntley and Huntley’s Sub Aqua Construction continue to expand their uses for their Deep Trekker unit and integrate it into their commercial diving services. “The Deep Trekker ROV paid for itself 80, 90, 100 times over since I’ve had it. That’s how reliable and that’s how effective and cost effective they are. They’re great units. They seem to work all the time. The maintenance is extremely minimal and it’s a quality product." remarked Huntley. "The service at Deep Trekker; when I call, they answer within 4, 5, 10 minutes tops. They always have the right answers for me.”
To learn more about Deep Trekker ROVs for submerged infrastructure inspections check out 5 Ways ROVs Optimize Inspections at Nuclear and Hydroelectric Power Stations and Using an ROV to Inspect Confined Spaces.
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