A robotic inspection technology that protects people, operations, and the planet

For over thirty years, Englobe’s specialized fuel tank inspection team, Tanknology, has delivered nationwide state-of-the art provider of tank and line testing services, fuel management programs, and inspection services. Of the latter, the API 653 robotic inspection service, performed on aboveground storage tanks, offers considerable benefits to tank owners who must provide regulators with proof of inspection.


Last October, the Tanknology team had a bold impact on one customer. Through its expertise and technology, the team provided staunch support to new customer CST Coal, at a time when this company faced a daunting and urgent situation. 

An urgent and risky situation

At the time, CST Coal, a single mine and processing operation in Alberta, was required to remain compliant with the Alberta fire code. To do so, it had to provide immediate proof of inspection of seven 90,000-litre aboveground fuel storage tanks, which supply the CST Coal’s mine machinery and vehicles in Grand Cache, Alberta.


Typically, preparation for such inspections involve shutting down operations. Next, the contents of each tank must be emptied, any remaining gases or other waste material must be discharged, and then the tanks must be thoroughly cleaned. Once these steps have been completed, the inspection crew can then enter the tank, using a confined space entry process. 


There are significant hazards and liabilities involved in this procedure. The inspection crew risks exposure to any remaining hazardous gases and a strong risk of fire. In addition, tank owners incur considerable costs as their operations must be shut down. Needless to say, this procedure also generates significant amounts of chemical and gaseous waste. The company must then safely dispose of this waste, with a potential environmental risk to its pristine location in the Rockies. 

An innovative solution 

It was clear that CST Coal had to find a way to maintain its business operations while remaining compliant, and avoiding any unnecessary risks to people and the environment. This is where the Tanknology team stepped in with an innovative solution: its API 653 robotic inspection technology, which the team is licensed to use in Canada. 


At the CST Coal site, the robotic technology systematically scanned the tank floor to collect and record a high volume of UT data. This data was then analyzed by a qualified inspector, who assessed the tank’s floor plate for thickness, top and bottom-side pitting, and corrosion locations.

Using this robotic technology enabled the inspections to proceed without emptying the tanks. It also eliminated the need for human inspectors to work in a confined and dangerous space, among other benefits. “Our API 653 inspection also helped eliminate significant health, safety and environmental risk factors associated with conventional inspections,” says Brent Boodoosingh, Senior Director at Tanknology. 


A great outcome

In this case, Tanknology was able to leverage the API 653 robotic technology to inspect all seven CST Coal tanks in only five days, while the company maintained its full operations. “This was a perfect example of how this technology can be used to safely and efficiently perform a procedure that was costly and dangerous in the past,” notes Peter Sutherland, Vice President, Expertise at Englobe. “Using our robotic inspection technology resulted in a net savings of tens of thousands of dollars for CST Coal.” 


The final outcome of Tanknology’s efforts was equally positive, as CST Coal was able to demonstrate regulatory compliance for another ten years.

Englobe is one of Canada’s premier firms specializing in professional engineering services, environmental sciences, and soil and biomass treatment.