Marine Technical Limits - Hull structural integrity management system for FPSOs

Marine Technical Limits is a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) integrity and repair management specialist. The company has developed PYXIS, a software system which provides risk-based integrity management strategies for FPSOs, enabling operators to make data-driven decisions and maximise the efficiency of their operations.

Managing the integrity of FPSO hull structures poses a very specific set of challenges, and integrity management is still often managed using outdated, labour-intensive spreadsheets or other basic systems. Marine Technical Limitssaw the opportunity to provide an end-to-end solution for managing hull structural integrity, from inspection planning and execution through to repair definition and close out. Its software system, PYXIS, incorporates all elements of the hull structure, and creates a digital twin of the assets. The system sits around a dashboard that displays the condition of the inspection points, and the inspection data is uploaded immediately to the PYXIS database. This allows onshore management teams to observe the condition and status of their vessels’ hull integrity and allows the naval architects to identify any anomalies at an early stage. This information empowers operators to develop appropriate strategies for maintaining their assets, thereby optimising decision-making, and managing integrity and maintenance as efficiently as possible. These efficiencies can all feed into the drive to move the industry towards net-zero carbon.

Cutting-edge technologies

PYXIS was conceived 16 years ago and was first deployed in the North Sea about six years ago. The system has since been under continuous development and has evolved into a mature product suite that utilises many cutting-edge technologies. These include 3D models, virtual reality, and UAV integration for live multi-device data capture in the field.

“We made our digital switch very early on and have never looked back. 3D models are used extensively throughout the software and we were among the first to adopt Virtual Reality. For the past five years, our clients have been able to understand integrity threats though high-quality 3D visualisations via the web, on intrinsically safe devices on site, on desktops or laptops, through VR and on mobiles. PYXIS also allows inspectors to capture digital data directly in the field. Optimised inspection plans are deployed onto ATEX Zone 1 rated equipment that streamlines the inspection process and minimises the time of personnel in tank. This is also available for Zone 1. This significantly reduces costs and improves the safety of operations. Furthermore, PYXIS can capture media directly from a wide range of devices including UAVs, ROVs, external cameras and remote devices. This eliminates post-reporting time and allows UAV inspections to be optimised. PYXIS UAV support also allows the operator to control the camera and lights allowing the pilot to focus on navigation”, Matt Lewin, Technical Director at Marine Technical Limits, explains.

In-house expertise has been a key to success

Lewin considers Marine Technical Limits’ extensive experience, continuous drive for innovation and in-house software expertise to be the main reasons for its success. This has allowed the Aberdeenshire-based company to develop a product suite that addresses the specific needs of FPSO and Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) operators.

By recognising from the outset that we should develop this software in-house, our engineers and developers have been able to collaborate closely and maximise efficiency of the development process. Our developers are familiar with the integrity management processes that the system supports and likewise our engineers, in working closely with our developers, are more aware of the constraints and opportunities of new technology. In this way we are able to identify opportunities at an early stage and develop digital systems that deliver real benefits to the industry. To deliver PYXIS successfully, we needed to embed software developers into the operations of the organisation so that collaboration and communications could be maximised. It was essential that every member of the team had a deep understanding of the requirements of the end user. This required a significant, ongoing investment that we achieved through self-funding”, adds Lewin.      

Aims to adapt PYXIS for a wider marketplace

Currently, target users are owners and operators of Offshore Floating Assets, but Marine Technical Limits is investigating opportunities to adapt PYXIS for a wider marketplace, and possibly even across different sectors. “The lessons we have learnt in developing PYXIS for FPSOs could easily be adapted for other industries in the future. We have already commenced the development of modules to expand the PYXIS software offering to incorporate mooring systems and subsea assets leveraging our end-to-end process for managing the integrity of these elements of the asset. Our plans include developing mission planning tools that can integrate with autonomous underwater vehicles and advanced underwater 3D scanning systems to allow data to be captured with minimal human intervention, thus increasing the consistency and quality of inspection data whilst significantly reducing operational costs. We are also closely monitoring the development of disruptive technologies for the autonomous navigation of inspection robots, so that these can be efficiently integrated into the work flows with PYXIS sitting at the heart of planning, capturing and analysing inspection data consistently and at reduced costs”, Lewin comments.


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By Anna Lygre Solvang