Inspectioneering Journal

CUI Robotics: Pushing the Envelope

CUI Detection Utilizing Robotic Platforms in Combination With NDE

By Sieger Terpstra, Principal Technical Expert Inspection Technology at Shell Global Solutions International BV, Maurice Fransen, Inspection & Integrity Engineer at Shell Global Solutions International BV, and Dr. Timothy Black, CTO at Quasset. This article appears in the November/December 2019 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.


Detection and repair of Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI) cost the petroleum and petrochemical industry an estimated $3-4 Billion USD per year. Key focuses in CUI detection are safety and the reduction of Loss of Primary Containment (LoPC). LoPC due to CUI not only has safety implications, but also substantial financial ones. Production loss and costs related to fitness-for-service, including inspection, repair/replacement, fabrication and installation costs can arise, as well as carrying high environmental impacts if LoPC occurs.

The current CUI inspection and maintenance practice with scaffolding and full de-lagging is highly inefficient. This is done predominantly due to uncertainties associated with low accuracy of detection and sizing of damage associated with current inspection technologies. High-cost savings can be realized if the approaches to CUI inspections are optimized. For example, a conservative estimate of a 5% efficiency increase would result in benefits in excess of $150 Million USD.

Global oil and gas operator, Shell, contracted Dutch-based consultancy, Quasset, to evaluate and verify the current state-of-the-art approaches in CUI robotics on non-magnetic cladding materials (i.e. insulation weather barrier) and perform a series of validation trials to determine which robotic systems are ready or close to release for deploying non-destructive examination (NDE) for CUI detection. This multidisciplinary project presented the opportunity to explore whether inspection of CUI could be performed at a significantly lower cost by leveraging innovative robotic equipment in combination with NDE. 

Currently, the initiative for development in CUI inspection is almost exclusively left to the developers of inspection technology. This requires these often-small companies to make high investments and seek cooperation with providers of complementary techniques, such as robotics. Business/commercial risks are high, as practical, effective CUI inspection is a challenging matter.

Replacing Traditional CUI Inspection Methods With Robotics

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Comments and Discussion

Posted by Dana Baham on February 3, 2020
Very interesting article, robotics are definitely... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by Jack Davison on February 4, 2020
Interesting that so much thought and progress was... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by Nasheed Ur Rahim on February 4, 2020
It is good tool with the combination of robotics... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

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