Illustration; Source: MODEC and Terra Drone

ABS hands out ‘world’s first’ approval for drone-based FPSO hull thickness measurement

Japan’s MODEC and Terra Drone Corporation, a compatriot drone and urban air mobility (UAM) technology company, have tucked what is said to be the world’s first approval from the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), a classification society, for a drone-based FPSO hull thickness measurement under their belts.

Illustration; Source: MODEC and Terra Drone

This comes after MODEC joined forces with Terra Drone Corporation to pursue the technical development of inspection drones for FPSO vessels and large offshore platforms. The two firms have now confirmed the completion of the drone-based hull thickness measurement of a crude oil storage tank of the FPSO Cidade de Mangaratiba MV24 – operated by the Japanese giant in Brazil – which was done by November 12, 2023.

This measurement method has obtained “the world’s first approval from the American Bureau of Shipping for the FPSO sector,” according to the duo. The companies explain that traditional crude oil storage tank inspection poses significant occupational safety and health concerns due to confined space entry and working at 30-meter heights.

These inspections typically require inspectors to manually record approximate measurement points on paper, making it difficult to measure the same points during each regular inspection. This, in turn, makes it challenging to maintain traceability of the measurement points.

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Utilizing Terra Drone’s Terra UT Drone, equipped with ultrasonic testing capabilities for non-destructive testing, MODEC claims that inspectors can now operate the drone from a safe area inside the tank, eliminating the work at height and ensuring a safer inspection process. In addition, the drone enhances the inspection process by capturing video images and acquiring 3D point cloud data, significantly improving the traceability of measurement points.

Moreover, the two companies also completed a second inspection on November 25 at the FPSO Cidade de Angra dos Reis MV22, located approximately 300 km off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Both firms will continue to apply this method to regular inspections on FPSOs to build a track record and further develop the technology.

MODEC and Terra Drone are convinced that they will contribute to the sustainable operation of FPSOs and other offshore platforms from environmental, economic, and social perspectives by enhancing safety, reducing labor, and increasing efficiency in inspection operations.

“MODEC will continuously commit to enhancing the asset integrity of offshore platforms through digital transformation (DX) by developing a high-precision digital twin model using the highly traceable measurement data obtained through drones,” outlined the Japanese player.