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Vopak using drones and robots in Singapore tank terminal operations

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Robots being deployed into the tank
Dutch tank storage firm Vopak is developing innovation pilots in Singapore with the use of drones and robots to achieve smart tank terminal operations.

The pilots completed in recent months in Singapore included using a robot to inspect an in-service tank at Sebarok island.

Vopak has also rolled out digital vessel clearance at all its four tank terminals in Singapore, helping customers clear vessels quicker and providing them with latest information on when the terminal can accommodate incoming vessels.

“With support from Singapore Economic Development Board, we have embarked on a digital and innovative transformation journey to make smart terminals a reality,” said Tan Soo Koong, managing director of Vopak Terminals Singapore.

“In the period 2017-2019 Vopak is investing EUR100m in technology, IT and innovation, and a part of it is used to power four of our eight global digital projects in Singapore, driving the company’s competitiveness in serving the industry safely and opening up new opportunities for our people,” Tan said.

Read more: Vopak expanding marine gasoil storage in Singapore to meet 2020 sulphur cap demand

The new initiatives tested include drone inspection, jetty inspection using an underwater remote operated vehicle (ROV), digital vessel clearance tool and robots for in-service tank inspection.

Vopak believes that its initiatives will drive the digital transformation of the industry, leveraging on technology such as Industry Internet-of-Things, big data analytics, sensoring, mobile device and robotics to create a safer, sustainable and more productive workplace.

At present, inspections are performed by people working inside confined space, meaning that assets have to be shut down to ensure safety. The use of robots would avoid downtime and minimise exposure of personnel to hazardous conditions.

On vessel clearance, traditionally, operators have to manually check against the vessel specifications, terminal infrastructure data and a list of globally recognised embargoed vessels. Vopak’s digital vessel clearance tool would allow operators to tap on internal data-driven platforms to automatically clear vessels and provide the relevant updated information.

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