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Hull Inspection Techniques & Strategy (HITS) Joint Industry Project

 
 
The HITS JIP is an international initiative targeted at improving the way the Industry manages the integrity of marine structures such as FPSOs, Drillships, FSRUs, FLNGs, accommodation barges and other floating offshore assets.
 
HITS was initiated in 2011 and is widely supported by Operators, Regulators, Classification Societies and Service Providers.

HITS has successfully delivered  industry innovations and guidance related to improving hull inspection.

The Joint Industry Project has now completed multiple progressive projects, and is currently developing remote unmanned tank inspections and minimising the requirement for tank cleaning prior to inspection.


Latest News

Reporting from Rio de Janeiro – HITS JIP Meeting 7-9 November 2022

Delegates have recently returned from the latest meeting of the HITS JIP (Hull Inspection Techniques and Strategy Joint Industry Programme) which took place in Rio de Janeiro between the 7th and 9th November 2022. The meeting took place against a backdrop of seeking to reduce the carbon footprint of FPSO Operations, an objective that chimed particularly well with the oil companies, operators, contractors, shipyards, research institutes and safety authorities that participated in this JIP.

The meeting took stock of the very significant and tangible progress that has been made in reducing both the industry’s dependency on diving operations, and the exposure to risk entailed in operating in dangerous confined spaces such as FPSO Cargo Oil Tanks.  Happily, these goals that dramatically improve safety and reduce risk are consistent with lowering the carbon footprint of FPSO operations. 

Of particular interest was the results of a recent trial by EM&I to demonstrate the use of a BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) Scout 137 UAV/Drone with unlimited in-tank flight time and equipped with UT (ultrasonic thickness) probes. This now completes a ‘family’ of integrity inspection tools that embodies high definition cameras for close and general visual inspection, laser scanners for deformation and distortion measurement and some thickness measurement, all of which can be inserted through limited access hatches.

BVLOS Scout 137 UAV/Drone

The HITS JIP then focused on the remaining, possibly most challenging obstacle: inspecting bottom plate from the inside of a cargo oil tank.  The development plan that was agreed will now focus on screening for, then testing, the appropriate sensors needed to detect anomalies, before moving to the challenge of identifying and trialing the most appropriate delivery methodology be it UAV, crawler or mechanical means; all with the aim of no manned entry.

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Delegates pause for breath and a photo opportunity at Petrobras’s impressive Research Facility in Rio de Janeiro!

HITS JIP was judged a major success and participants now look forward to a period of hard work to deliver the next stage of the development programme in time to be reviewed at the next meeting which is to be held in Paris in early 2023.



SS Rotterdam hosts HITS 8 Meeting – 13 June 2022

For the first face-to-face meeting for a while, 12 participants met in Rotterdam to hear about progress on the HITS 8 project; the meeting commenced with a reminder of the three main challenges that HITS set itself at initiation, and what we achieved in HITS 7.

The three main challenges for HITS were:
1. Reducing diver intervention - largely met and the industry has accepted and implemented a range of diverless hull inspection techniques (and indeed repair strategies).
2. Reducing entry into confined spaces - has also moved forward and despite the COVID-19 pandemic and budget restrictions, the JIP has carried out a full HITS 7 programme.
3. Reducing the need for cleaning for inspection purposes – the focus of the HITS programme.

The HITS 8 programme is covering the following:

- How much do we need to clean if we are using a Remote (or Risk) Based Inspection Strategy?
- What localised cleaning methods exist and what are their capabilities?
- Are there inspection methods that need no cleaning or less cleaning?
- If there are such systems, would we be able to get suppliers to demonstrate these in a workshop environment?
- Would successful or promising system suppliers be willing to carry out a trial on a representative asset?

There was a wide-ranging discussion covering Risk Based Inspection methodology and application, the use of UAVs in confined spaces, and better use of Crude Oil Washing (COW) of Cargo Oil Tanks (COT) to enable effective inspection through-life, and design adjustment to new build FPSOs to optimise Remote Inspection Techniques.


Virtual Meeting – 4 November 2021

Continuing flexibility under pandemic travel restrictions, 28 HITS JIP participants and guests met online to hear Remote Tank Survey updates, and to be introduced to the information gained from various EM&I projects under the HITS 7 programme of tasks.
 
The meeting also looked forward to HITS 8, and the proposal for the Remote Tank Cleaning studies and trials, including the potential to carry out inspections of some areas without cleaning (or even emptying) cargo oil tanks.  In addition to potential trials of cleaning equipment, delayed HITS 7 trials will recommence, with trials being arranged with a drone operator to which all participants would be invited.

In conclusion, it was stated that the HITS JIP was highly regarded by the FPSO forum for its achievements and longevity; this was entirely due to the members experience, enthusiasm, and support.


HITS 7 Webinar - success

The HITS 7 webinar took place on the 26th May 2021 to an audience of 20 representatives of the JIP members.

Danny Constantinis welcomed the participants, with an especial welcome to Mike Duddy and Nazrul Hafizie, who represented our latest member MISC, a valuable and experienced new member of the HITS family.

Raymond Caldwell presented more detail on the work covered during the previous period (reports had already been issued to the members) and in particular on progress made with remote inspection of confined spaces studies.

The work achieved was well received particularly in light of the COVID restrictions that had been in place during the period concerned.

Danny Constantinis, presented the financial results which showed a surplus forecast for the end 2021. He pointed out that this bodes well for a successful start to the HITS 8 programme in January 2022, details of which will be presented at the October 2021 webinar, dates to be confirmed.


HITS Webinar 22nd October 2020

The HITS JIP held their second remote meeting via webinar on the 22nd October 2020.

The meeting was well attended with over 25 participants from across the globe joining in.

The focus of the meeting was the HITS 7 proposal, which covers laser scanning and remote camera inspection trials in tanks.

The success of the webinar approach has already prompted the plan to repeat this method of remote working for the next HITS JIP meeting, which is planned for April or May 2021.


HITS Goes Remote!


The HITS JIP, one of the most successful gatherings in the FPSO Research Forum, has been meeting twice a year, face to face across the globe for more than six years....until last week.

With members keen to keep up the momentous progress made over the years, the HITS 6 meeting was held remotely on 25th May 2020 by Webex webinar.

It was a big success with more than twenty-nine attendees from the oil majors, class societies and service companies.

The webinar discussed the HITS 6 outputs which included progress made in starting trials of bottom plating remote inspections, through to the report which compared synchronous laser inspections to manual ultrasonic and mechanical inspections of pits and plate thickness.

With some further suggestions for refining the laser methodology received from the Participants the HITS project team will now put together their proposals for the next phase; HITS 7 which will be discussed at the next webinar on the 3rd June 2020.

The success of the webinar approach has already prompted the plan to repeat this method of remote working for the next HITS JIP meeting.

Who knows, with the increasing sophistication of this communications technology, we may well be seeing remote HITS meetings as the 'new normality'.


HITS JIP Meeting in Houston October 2019


The 20th HITS JIP meeting took place on the 18th October during the FPSO Research Forum week in Houston and continued its tremendous success as there were over 25 participants.

The future of NoMan® and remote inspection of tanks was a key topic as were development of bottom plating remote inspection methods.

Progress continues to be made through onshore trials with the intention of continuing trials at site level.

Danny Constantinis, HITS Project Director, had this to say “ I am very pleased that so many senior managers in key organisations attended and contributed to this meeting. Significant progress was made and great insights discussed on the future direction for asset integrity of hull structural integrity” 



HITS JIP Meeting in Singapore April 2019


The HITS JIP workshop took place during the FPSO Research Forum week on the 11th April 2019 in Singapore.

HITS is now in it's 6th year and this time there was another record attendance of 24 representatives of the oil majors, large lease operators, top four class societies and leading R&D academic groups.

Danny Constantinis (HITS Project Director) and Raymond Caldwell, technical specialist for the HITS project, presented the success programme completed for HITS 5, and pointed the way forward for HITS 6.

This exciting JIP has gathered huge momentum by encouraging diverless inspection technology and now launching technology to inspect tanks and confined spaces with high performance robotic visual and laser inspections tried out on a live asset.

HITS JIP Meeting at the FPSO Research Forum Week October 2018


The HITS JIP completed it's 5th year at the FPSO Conference in Papendrecht, Holland on the 26th October 2018.

Attendance was at a record high with 20 participants and two guests.

Interest in membership continues to grow with the Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Company (KUFPEC) welcomed into membership by HITS Project Director Danny Constantinis. Meanwhile, Brazilian operator Petrobras have requested membership as has service provider Oceaneering International Services.

A powerful agenda examining both visual inspection methodologies and remote inspection techniques consumed the day, with much debate and endorsement of the JIP reports prepared for the meeting.

Danny Constantinis commented "The JIP now moves into an exciting phase in 2019 with comprehensive testing environments being prepared to assess robustness and commercial effectiveness of inspection technologies in the fast moving market".



HITS JIP Meeting at the 40th FPSO Research Forum Week

The HITS JIP entered its fifth year with its biggest ever attendance at the recent FPSO Forum in Cumbria, UK, which was hosted by EM&I.

The meeting took place on Thursday 12th April 2018 and began with a presentation of and discussion around achievements in the previous year.  HITS 4 considered fundamentals required for eliminating man entry into confined spaces.  This included methodologies and requirement for thickness gauging.   Further consideration was given to cleanliness of tanks and their coating condition. 

Two demonstrations of technology were made during the meeting in the EM&I Technology Centre allowing participants to examine close up the effectiveness of UAV's (Unmanned Ariel Vehicles) and PEC (Pulsed Eddy Current) thickness measuring technique.

The results of the 2017 work are now allowing the HITS journey to enter an exciting new phase in HITS 5 with a thorough investigation of both inspection techniques and remote delivery techniques.  A plan for the current year was approved at the meeting.

Current JIP members include: BV, ABS, Lloyds, Shell, Chevron and Exxon Mobil.  However JIP is regularly attracting new interest with membership continuing to build and three new approaches made for membership in recent weeks, including BP.


HITS JIP Meeting in Galveston, USA

October 2017

The 39th FPSO Research Forum JIP week was held in Galveston, USA from the 2nd - 6th October 2017 which included the HITS JIP mid-year meeting.

The HITS JIP, now in its fourth phase, is increasingly being recognised as one of the leading events, with 23 attendees, including new representation from ExxonMobil and Petrobras.

Interesting presentations were made by James Henton of Lloyds Register who shared their experience of UAV trials and shone much light on the reasons for structural thickness measurements for an LR perspective.

The participants had a hands-on opportunity to try out the prototype web based Hull Inspector Competency training and certification software developed by EM&I and based on the HITS syllabus emanating from a number of work groups that involved the major class societies.

An interesting presentation was made by Appellix, a company who have developed tethered drones and which may have an application for tank inspections.

Reports on tank cleaning standards and an update on other studies on coating and thickness measurement methods were also presented by Ray Caldwell, noting that these were on target for completion by December 2017 and issue in early 2018.

The financial report presented by Danny Constantinis indicating that HITS was operating within budget and had the finances to carry out some site trials in 2018 that had been deferred in 2017.

EM&I are now developing a scope and budget for 2018 and 2019 where a lot of the focus will be on site trials of remote tank inspections and in particular the challenges of taking remote thickness measurements.

HITS is now widely recognised as a successful and long running JIP and will feature strongly in the next FPSO forum, the 40th anniversary of the event, which will be hosted by EM&I at their Cumbria R&D centre.