Cutting-edge robotics tested on TADI
TotalEnergies is pioneering the development of robotics to operate its sites. R&D teams based in Lacq and Pau are working to improve the capabilities of robots dedicated to their industrial activities. Find out more in this video.
The purpose of robotics is to operate facilities remotely, so that as few people as possible are exposed to industrial risks. For example, robots will carry out site inspection, surveillance and maintenance activities in total safety. They perform either autonomous missions such as unmanned inspection rounds, or are remotely operated, the latter also being useful in crisis situations.
Adopting this kind of high-technology equipment marks a considerable change in the life of employees who work in difficult conditions. One of the challenges is to be able to test the robots reliably in an environment representative of the workplace. The TADI center at the Platform for Experimental Research in Lacq (PERL) is a world-renowned facility that allows TotalEnergies’ teams to quickly and easily try out the different technologies developed by the Company. What makes this possible? TADI is located at the center of an industrial environment classified as SEVESO 3, it offers a telecommunications and network architecture similar to the type in place in the Company’s affiliates, incorporating in particular the cybersecurity considerations and specificities of industrial sites.
"TADI gives us a considerable added value compared to our peers, thanks to its realistic architecture that can even accommodate real gas detection tests" explains Jean-Michel Munoz, Head of the Remote Operations Research and Development project at TotalEnergies. "The team at the PERL also provides us with extensive support, on the strength of their industrial experience", he adds.
His R&D team is currently running a whole battery of robot tests to prepare for the pilots in the affiliates – the aim being to anticipate several scenarios and, in the long term, to qualify the use of autonomous surveillance or inspection robots for our operations. For example in an exploratory context, to run endurance tests by extensively using the robots, or to simulate complex work situations in which the robot came up against certain difficulties during the previous pilots. TADI can also be used to train production installation operators. "The next step consists in operating robots that interact with the facilities, and that will be tested and made more reliable on TADI. Certain tasks however cannot be automated, so the robot needs to be operated remotely from a control room. As a pioneer Company in robotics for the operation of oil & gas sites, TotalEnergies is actively pursuing these developments. They are highly complex and represent a sizable challenge for the future. It’s really fascinating!".
Of robots and humans
We cannot use robots to their full potential unless they are incorporated into a consistent operating philosophy. This implies considerations as to the equipment, but also the users and how they use that equipment, given that remote operators of industrial sites will be able to program their robot or robots that have simultaneous operations, without being right next to one another.
Change management is an important step in all the improvement processes. “On this journey of innovation, our R&D teams have reached a new, significant milestone by developing a person/robot interface that can effectively manage task preparation and planning, supervise the robot fleet, etc. Recognition solutions using artificial intelligence are also used. To date, around fifteen algorithms have been developed to extract useful information from the images collected by the robots, for example oil levels for machines, the position of valves, reading analogical sensors or the lighting status and so on. Lastly, we are working on the reliability aspect so that the robotic technologies can be adapted to our management system." explains the project manager. The fact is that developing robotics in the industrial sector, will drive the emergence of a new work organization with new functions on TotalEnergies sites. The presence of robotics technicians will become an increasingly familiar occurrence in the site control rooms, to supervise the fleet of robots, and occasionally take control of the robots in manual mode for complex operations.
From concept to reality, watch the video to discover the progress made in robotics to ramp up safety in operations and reduce the environmental footprint of facilities at TotalEnergies: