Wednesday 21 August 2019

Firm ups stake in life-saving robots

Sludge buster: James Power, the senior tanker and site supervisor at Re-Gen Robotics, operates one of the firm’s tank cleaners
Sludge buster: James Power, the senior tanker and site supervisor at Re-Gen Robotics, operates one of the firm’s tank cleaners

Shawn Pogatchnik

A LOCAL pioneer in the use of robots in dangerous environments, Re-Gen Robotics, says it is investing £1m (€1.1m) in a new tank-cleaning device amid "phenomenal" demand.

The Newry-based firm launched in April and has already deployed two of the explosion-resistant robots to clear sludge from inside tanks at UK refineries operated by Shell. Managing director Fintan Duffy said Re-Gen is the only operator of so-called 'no man entry' tank cleaners in Ireland and Britain.

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"Interest from the major oil companies in Britain has been phenomenal," he said, noting that the company is currently negotiating contracts with two other oil refiners.

He said oil companies were actively seeking alternatives "to manual tank cleaning, with several postponing cleans on tanks until they find a solution that guarantees safety".

According to Lucan-based Emergency Fire and Safety Training, more than 250 workers worldwide are killed annually on average while working in confined spaces such as tanks, wells, silos and sewers, including about 25 per year in Britain and Ireland.

Risks include high temperatures and lack of oxygen, poisonous gases or fumes, burial in free-flowing solids, drowning, fires and explosions.

The robots can break down heavy sludge manually, then use water jets and vacuum power to remove the waste.

Irish Independent

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