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The Marsden Group

Improving Red Zone Safety in Offshore Drilling

Company Overview

The Marsden Group works, collaborates and partners with some of the world’s largest organizations across industries, such as Microsoft, Unilever and Seadrill, to build long-term partnerships and harness the latest technologies to bring digital ideations and concepts to value driven reality. Their innovation facility in Houston, Texas, is ISO 9001 and IECEx certified, which allows for the company’s explosive zone rated innovations to be designed and manufactured in-house. The Marsden Group is constantly seeking new ways to meet industry and regulatory challenges with new and emerging technology. The company’s R&D division is specifically designed for rapid prototyping of mechanical and electrical technologies (including vision and conditional based monitoring sensor arrays) and works intimately with their in-house data science and development teams to make ideas become a reality, just like their latest innovation, Vision IQ.


The Marsden Group is a member of the Automated with Velodyne™ program.

Challenges

The oil and gas industry is identified year on year as one of the most dangerous work sectors and although procedures and protocols are tighter than ever, safety issues persist. In the UK alone, the UK Offshore Statistics & Regulatory Activity Report shows there were 106 reported injuries in 2018. Whilst in the United States, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) reported 171 recorded injuries within 2018 as well as a fatality.

The highest risk areas are classified as Red Zones. These zones are where semi-automated procedures require human interaction with heavy-duty machinery, Reports identify Red Zones as the most common areas of incident.

In the UK Health and Safety Executive’s annual report for 2018, the specific dangers of the Red Zone can be clearly identified. Contact with machinery or being struck by a moving or stationary object accounted for 36 injuries, a rise on the 24 recorded in 2017. This statistic is no anomaly as object handling, falls and uncategorized incidents also rose, this time from 58 in 2017 to 70 in 2018. The offshore statistics for the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (including the Gulf of Mexico) show similar persistent dangers as the BSEE with a report that in 2018, object handling resulted in 111 injuries, an increase from 97 in 2017.

It’s clear Red Zone safety is a persistent and significant issue across the industry and many operators and drilling contractors are looking to innovative technologies to help aid and support the reduction of workforce injuries and lost time incidents.

Vision IQ, equipped with Velodyne lidar, addresses the need for improved safety conditions in offshore drilling by monitoring personnel in red zones

Solution

Vision IQ has been designed to specifically target the safety issues surrounding Red Zone management. Using a combination of lidar from Velodyne, HD cameras, advanced vision processing, and integrated high-powered edge computing, The Marsden Group have created a system that improves operational visualization and personnel detection on the drill floor.

The Velodyne lidar units provide excellent coverage of an associated area (in this instance, the drill floor) by sending out pulsed beams of light and measuring the reflection time to calculate distances between objects, people and equipment. The addition of cameras for image recognition along with Marsden Group machine learning and classification algorithms allow accurate identification and tracking of people and equipment. This information is used to alert operators in real time of potentially dangerous situations before they occur.

Vision IQ being used to track and monitor personnel to improve safety in offshore drilling

Results

Extensive testing and data collection have allowed The Marsden Group to capture daily operations and measure procedural adherence to Red Zones. The initial findings throughout on-rig testing helped The Marsden Group understand the complexities of the offshore environment. This led to the company prioritizing the usability of the system by creating an application that would enable operators to work not only safer but smarter.

The custom-built Vision IQ application allows for real-time tracking and audible and visual alarms upon Red Zone intrusion. The alarm will trigger if the pre-determined threshold is exceeded based on the number of authorized personnel allowed for that specific drilling activity.

It also provides the ability to review and playback previous shifts or drilling activities using a grid-based heatmap to aid a deeper understanding of personnel movement and equipment. In the same way, a sports team may review previous plays or games against an opponent for improvement, VisionIQ’s functionality is designed to improve safety and operational efficiency.

These features have been specifically designed with input and feedback from development partners and end-users with the goal to ensure that Vision IQ is a complete end-to-end solution for Red Zone safety management.

The Marsden Group has Vision IQ units actively operating in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea with more deployments scheduled for West Africa and beyond. Over time, the company intends to continue to harness more data of live operations to truly study the relationship between people and equipment. The goal is to actively contribute to and support the reduction of lost time incidents and serious injuries within the oil and gas industry. The potential of Vision IQ is vast with many additional use cases already identified not only within the oil and gas industry but also across other industries such as fast-moving consumer goods and mining. The Marsden Group wants to constantly push the envelope of Vision IQ and use Velodyne lidar for future safety applications.

Example of how a Vision IQ is installed on an offshore oil rig
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