Chevron Richmond Refinery exhibition shows role of robotics in enhancing safety

Chevron Richmond Refinery exhibition shows role of robotics in enhancing safety
One of a dozen robots at the SPRINT Robotics showcase at the Chevron Richmond Refinery on Tuesday, May 15.

An exhibition of highly sophisticated robots and drones at the Chevron Richmond Refinery on Tuesday offered insight into one way the modernizing Refinery has been working to enhance the safety of workers and local community members.

During a SPRINT Robotics exhibition in the Refinery cafeteria, technologies from a dozen companies were showcased that can more effectively and safely conduct inspections and maintenance at large industrial facilities, creating a safer environment for workers.

“We’re supporting Chevron in showcasing what is possible using modern-day technologies for inspection and maintenance purposes,” said Rudolf Essel, general manager of SPRINT Robotics. “We see a lot of value that robotics can offer by reducing people in dangerous environments, confined spaces etc. And also they bring efficiency improvements.”

The technology at Tuesday’s showcase was indeed impressive. Drones can now fly off and perform inspections in all kinds of spaces without a pilot. A self-leveling drone surrounded by a carbon-fiber cage can knock into things without sustaining damage. Small, land-based robots can crawl into confined spaces, such as narrow piping, and detect whether any repairs are needed.

“One of the things we’re finding with robotics is we can actually get much better data than with people,” said Eric Sjerve, CTO for IRISNDT, which provides non-destructive testing, inspection and other related services to the oil, gas, petroleum and petrochemical industries.

Sjerve added, “Robotics not only helps with the safety of employees…it also helps with the safety of the whole facility which will be the safety of the people in this area. And that’s just because we get that better data. It’s auditable data and we can track it.”

SPRINT Robotics holds events at facilities across the nation and world where experts come together to share information on the fast-changing technology.