Artificial intelligence robot revolutionizes pipelines inspection process
Dianna Liu wanted to find a less risky and more efficient way to inspect pipes when she founded her own inspection company. For the founder and president of ARIX Technologies, the answer was a semi-autonomous robot that can inspect pipelines to detect corrosion.By Elsie Ross
Dianna Liu wanted to find a less risky and more efficient way to inspect pipes when she founded her own inspection company. For the founder and president of ARIX Technologies, the answer was a semi-autonomous robot that can inspect pipelines to detect corrosion. The technology allows experts to remain on the ground instead of having to work at heights – saving time and improving safety.
“We built the robot to be able to travel along the pipe safer and faster,” she tells Gas Pathways. The ARIX robot, which was developed and built in-house, is the only pipe-crawling inspection tool on the market that can drive semi-autonomously on insulated vertical piping while traversing common field obstacles.
Liu comments “You’ll still have inspectors present but with the ARIX technology they’re able to focus on the data and not spending their time working at heights. Inspectors are experts in their field, and we are saving them time by mitigating the need to physically climb pipes to inspect.” The robot’s design incorporates features such as speed and distance controls, as well as the ability to override the program, at any point. According to Liu, ARIX has worked closely with industry partners to understand their needs, driving the company's research and development efforts to generate solutions that customers have requested, aiming to “really give them what they want.”
Although ARIX focuses mainly on downstream and chemical plant inspections, some midstream operators may also use the robot for above ground water lines where an inline pig, the typical means of inspection for long-distance pipelines, cannot be used. Additionally, the company offers analytics services, powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence, to help customers maximize the benefits of the risk-based assessment programmes and extract valuable insights from the growing inspection data sets. Liu explained that the company can work with the user to gain better insights from their historic data, along with information collected, so that ARIX can prioritize areas for inspection, optimizing the client’s budget. “We help them figure out what are the areas that they should follow up on [or] are there areas that they may not even be looking at.”
ARIX was incorporated in 2017, began to commercialise in 2021, ramped up in mid-2022 and is “truly kicking off” this year, according to Liu. Until now, ARIX has primarily focused on Texas and Louisiana. However, the company has secured Canadian investors and is working with several Canadian companies to introduce its services to Canada later this year or in early 2024. One of those investors is NGIF Capital through its Cleantech Ventures Fund I backed by many of Canada’s natural gas producers. Liu expressed her satisfaction: “we’ve loved working with NGIF and their amazing LPs [limited partnerships],” said Liu. “They add immensely helpful customer feedback while being so supportive in all the difficult aspects of building a company.”
According to John Adams, Managing Partner of NGIF Cleantech Ventures, “Preventing and detecting pipeline corrosion is a key focus area for our industry, as operators actively pursue new opportunities to improve asset safety and environmental performance, we see significant potential for the ARIX system to help us with this important agenda.”