CFM Challenge from SPRINT Robotics seeks technologies to make tank cleaning safer

The Robot Report
CFM Challenge from SPRINT Robotics seeks technologies to make tank cleaning safer

The CFM Challenge will have single winner. Source: SPRINT Robotics

SPRINT Robotics has announced the CFM Challenge, which seeks demonstrable robotic technologies that can be used for the cleaning and fabric maintenance of storage tanks, pressure vessels, process piping, and their associated supporting infrastructure. The organization plans to award €50.000 ($56,430 U.S.) to a single winner, which will have an opportunity to further develop its system and application.

The Hilversum, Netherlands-based SPRINT Robotics Collaborative was launched in 2015. The organization promotes the development of robotics for safety and technical inspections, as well as cleaning and maintenance of capital-intensive infrastructure. Members include large owners of petrochemical assets.

Several subject-matter experts from the SPRINT Robotics Task Force launched the CFM Challenge, including BP, Chevron, Dow, Equinor, Saudi Aramco, SBM Offshore, Shell, and Total.

CFM Challenge requirements

Cleaning and maintenance of storage tanks, pressure vessels, and pipes is labor-intensive and sometimes hazardous, said SPRINT Robotics. The CFM Challenge focuses on existing and new robotic tools near commercialization that can reduce or eliminate the need for humans to be involved with confined space entries (CSEs), scaffolding, or rope access (RA).

The competition includes five challenges, including crude storage tanks; pressure vessels; process piping; floating, production, storage, and offloading (FPSOs); and an open call for cleaning and fabric maintenance robots.

SPRINT Robotics said proposals should meet the following requirements:

  • Ability to move and get into position without requiring a CSE, RA, or scaffolding and adaptable to different size assets, locations and geometries
  • Can traverse and move around simple obstacles
  • Ideally achieve 100% coverage area on the asset (internal or external)
  • Portable solutions that can be rapidly set up and dismantled and are compliant with offshore and onshore health, safety, environment, and quality (HSEQ) requirements
  • Novel solutions, such as any contribution that brings the industry closer to the goal (such as a robot faster than one person with a manual nozzle)
  • Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 4+, preferably near or close to market solutions, although novel prototypes will also be evaluated
SPRINT Robotics CFM Challenge

Source: SPRINT Robotics

In addition, proposed systems must be able to conduct the following CFM Challenge tasks, according to SPRINT Robotics:

  • Ability to do dry blasting (SSPC-SP-10), slurry blasting (SSPC-SP-10), or water jetting (SSPC-SP-12 WJ2), according to the standards of NACE International (National Association of Corrosion Engineers) and the Society for Professional Coatings (SSPC). The method must be at least faster than the average time when compared to the legacy manual method (i.e., one person with nozzle)
  • Able to prepare a surface and apply coating to horizontal, vertical, and upside down/underside, e.g. magnetic or flying for inaccessible or difficult to reach areas such as in corners
  • Airless spray robot that sprays a large area in one pass, or conventional spray robot with multiple nozzles that spray a large area in one pass that is faster than the legacy manual method
  • Provide uniform coating film thickness consistently (i.e., dry film thickness or DFT)
  • Can set dimensions and the robot automatically surface preps and sprays the area
  • It is also Ideal to have a vacuum for sediment and hazardous debris removal (e.g. hydrocarbon bearing product or lead paint)

The CFM Challenge officially opened on July 1 and is open to all industrial and scientific areas. Submissions are due Aug. 31, 2020, and SPRINT Robotics will announce participants on Oct. 8. Demonstrations are scheduled for Oct. 22 and 23, and the award will be announced in December.

For more information about the request for proposals, five sub-challenges, submission process, and reward for the winning system, visit

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Source: therobotreport

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