Oil and gas companies are seeking new and innovative ways to further reduce costs while maintaining safety and efficiency.
Automated pipe handling systems are not new, but the size and the weight of the equipment is one area needing to be addressed; storing something heavy at the top of a rig can cause problems when the rig is moved. For that reason, a lightweight robotic arm is needed. Many of the solutions available today also require the rebuild of most of the wrecking ball, but companies are not willing to commit to that, as it requires a significant modification to the rig fleet.
RigArm’s technology encompasses the latest trends in adaptive autonomous control. Borrowing from the latest developments in self-driving cars, the company has developed a new software system for the arm that uses 3D laser scanning; this permits the robot to adapt to the changing environment and maintain reliable, fast and precise performance. The arm has LIDAR and ultrasonic sensors that scan the racking board so that all precision tasks of properly locating the pipe are carried out by an autonomous system, allowing for significant speed improvements.
The robotic arm, which weighs less than 2,000 pounds, can be added on and easily removed; it is designed to remain on the racking board when the rig is moved. RigArm also has been able to bring the technology’s cost down by developing much of the core hardware and software technology in-house, Jorgic noted.
The oil price downturn has prompted massive layoffs, capital expenditure reductions and cutbacks in activity. But interest is still seen by companies in technologies that can help reduce production costs while maintaining efficiency and safety standards. In recent years, the oil and gas industry has been looking at new technologies or methods to enhance operations, such as taking advantage of Big Data and Internet of Things technologies.