Using the most modern techniques, Huntsman in Rotterdam made a digital image of all four factories. Among other things, they used drones. In addition, inspections were carried out using 3D scan images, which provided a much more complete, faster and safer picture of the pipe parts that might need repairing.
At its Botlek location in Rotterdam, Huntsman produces polyurethane. This product is a versatile synthetic material and can be found in, for example, mattresses, sports shoes and the interior of your car. Huntsman's four factories have regular maintenance stops. Safety is the most important thing in our company', says Bram Klijn, who works at Huntsman as a Maintenance Turnaround Support Engineer. Both towards the outside world and within the gates of our site, we do everything we can to keep it safe. In addition, we are very customer-focused and want to innovate continuously'.
Huntsman recently came into contact with Smart AIS, a sister company of KH Engineering. I had been looking for a while for a party that could help us with inspections', says Bram. We had been experimenting with video inspections ourselves for a year and we really liked it. Moreover, it has recently become permitted to use video for installations that require an inspection. However, we do not have the expertise or the capacity to do this on a large scale ourselves. That is why I wanted to work with an external party. I chose Smart AIS because they did not focus on the method, but on the quality and efficiency of the inspection. Other companies focus too much on what a drone can do. Smart AIS presented itself as a company that does high quality inspection work and uses drones when it is useful to do so.
Street View in the plant
Smart AIS carried out a number of inspection tasks for Huntsman. They did this to support our CUI (Corrosion Under Insulation) programme. We use this programme to check whether there is any damage to insulation that could lead to corrosion under insulation. That creates a risk on leakage,' Bram explains. In the conventional way, you have to pay a lot of money to erect scaffolding and you can only assess about 40% of your installation properly. With the 3D scanning technique, no scaffolding is needed and you are able to assess about 70% of your installation properly. We approached it differently. First, we had Smart AIS make a 3D scan of all the plants. Using a high-resolution camera under a drone, they inspected the pipework for possible places where water might collect under the insulation. We also deployed a 360-degree camera, which gives you a kind of Google Street View of the factory'. The 3D scan images were then assessed by inspectors of Smart AIS for insulation damage and corrosion on non-insulated systems and steelwork, with the reports immediately visible in the street view model.
Bram discovered that this method has several advantages. Because the inspectors do not need to work at heights and they are much less physically present in the plant, the safety risk is considerably reduced. You get to see a much larger part of your installation than if when you let an inspector walk through the plant. ‘And an enormous advantage, in my opinion, is that you can immediately see the damages found in high resolution and with a very precise GPS location. You can also use the resulting report immediately when outsourcing the work and reporting on the repairs.
Bram is also very enthusiastic about the by-products of this project. We now have a 3D model of the factory with which we can do much more. For example, in the work preparation. You no longer need to have people search for the exact spot where something needs to be done. You just type in the relevant pipe or equipment number and you get a perfect picture, including the location. That saves an incredible amount of time. An example: in the past, when an external engineer needed to see the location, he had to come here in his car and look for it under the guidance of one of our own people. Now you give them temporary access to the digital system and they can look it up in a minute. Moreover, the 3D scan produces a so-called 'point cloud'; a collection of millions of pixels with its own GPS coordinates. We can now use this for engineering, performance studies and other purposes. And when I outsource painting work, for example, I can immediately attach a good image of the work to be done. The contractors are very happy with that, because it enables them to make a much better estimate of the work and therefore offer a better quotation.
Finally, the model also comes in very handy during operator training. You can hold a fire drill that takes place entirely within the model, and we have already carried out tests with VR glasses, which make it even more realistic’, says Bram. 'Moreover, we can use the model in our personnel recruitment. You make a good impression at information fairs and job markets if you can show that you are working on such innovations.
Keeping the 3D model up to date has also been taken into account. Each modification is scanned and photographed again and put into the model,' says Bram. ‘We have also agreed to have the entire plant re-scanned every three years.’
Bram, who started as a pipefitter at ICI/Huntsman 41 years ago and then rose to Turnaround Manager through all kinds of positions, has been working as a Maintenance & Turnaround Support Engineer for one and a half years. A deliberate step backwards; I'll be working for a few more years and then I'll retire', he says. Now, my role is being a source of information and I get more room to bring along Huntsman in different innovations. Throughout my career I have tried to do things smarter and more efficiently. But in the last few years, Huntsman has really accelerated in terms of innovations. And I think what we are doing now, together with Smart AIS, is really the icing on my "innovation career cake".' For more information about Smart AIS: www.smart-ais.com.
For more information about Huntsman: www.huntsman.com