Challenge N°3

Provide an accurate “visual” inspection of industrial equipment


GRTgaz wishes to optimise the inspection of industrial equipment in restricted environments and check more simply some points which are difficult to access.


GRTgaz operates a network composed of 32,456 km of pipelines and 28 compression stations equipped with 83 compressors of several MW.

To inspect and maintain the compressors and turbines, GRTgaz regularly carries out internal visual diagnoses.


Matériel utilisé actuellement : Mentor Visual de General Electric

Areas of use


Given the complexity of the machines and their constraints on their availability, these operations must be carried out when the facilities are not in operation but have not been disassembled. For this purpose, GRTgaz has, for several years, used endoscopy techniques (General Electric’s Mentor Visual) which are carried out from certain openings in the equipment and video link (external and internal illustrations of the apertures are shown in the pictures below). The videoscopes are composed of a camera fitted to the end of a 3 to 7-metre long fibre.


This powerful technique cannot however be used to carry out a full inspection. Indeed, some equipment does not allow an endoscope to be correctly inserted. Moreover, some geometrical layouts that are complex or constrained by physical laws limit the number or the extent of the accessible areas (a schematic representation of the routing difficulty is shown in the photo below). The current mechanism, consisting of a camera fitted to the end of a fibre with a diameter of 6 mm, is faced with problems of gravity and jamming, in particular due to the presence of chicanes and narrow passages. More specifically, the camera can be handled remotely, but the fibre cannot be directed and is subject to the constraints of the machine. The main inspection need of GRTgaz does not exceed a continuous length of 10m.


Plate & Fiber to cross several floors

In order to overcome the limitations mentioned above and to improve the diagnosis operations, GRTgaz is looking for new solutions that will primarily provide the two following functions:


– Increase the number of machines that can be inspected as well as the number and extent of the areas of each equipment item

– Precisely locate the defects


We are looking for simple inspection techniques that can be interpreted directly by an operator.


The main constraints identified are as follows:
The inspection systems inserted in the equipment must not:


– require disassembly, even partial, of this equipment throughout the inspection
damage the inspected equipment

– damage the inspected equipment

– leave a solid residual element larger than 2 mm in the equipment

– the video link or visual playback does not necessarily have to be instantaneous, but this is preferable

– the functionality indicating the location of the defects must be accurate; indeed the inspected areas are often a succession of similar environments, so unambiguous identification of the area concerned is required

– the intervention times using the current resources is around one day for each equipment item


Allow GRTgaz to inspect the integrity of equipment quickly, at a reasonable cost, preferably autonomously (by GRTgaz accredited personnel) in areas with difficult access.

The devices would, at least in part, replace endoscopy equipment whose purchase price is around €40k.


Issues for GRTgaz

Financial: avoid unnecessary disassembly of equipment or anticipate deterioration with significant impacts


Safety: ensure the integrity of equipment as part of improved preventive maintenance


Volumes / Time scales of the need

– Volumes:


>    Per year, on the basis of a replacement of the current methods: 30 inspection operations; to cover this number of interventions, one equipment item would be sufficient for GRTgaz


>    According to the potential of the proposed technology:


+ other equipment could be inspected (meters, chimneys, filters, pipes)

+ more generally other operations for which it would be useful to avoid having to disassemble the equipment) could be envisaged


– Planned schedule:


>    As soon as possible (Testing in 2018 and then more wide-scale deployment)


Value prospects for the winner:

– GRTgaz prefers mature solutions ready to be implemented on its facilities; in this case the internal market is specified in the previous point. Moreover, GRTgaz is convinced that the external market and in particular that regarding the maintenance of rotating machines is very large.


– For solutions not yet mature:


>      co-development in partnership with GRTgaz of potential solutions is possible,

>      financing of solutions to be developed or the financing of patents to be registered is possible,

Closing Date: 15/09/2018


The closing date originally scheduled for 15/09/2018, has been postponed to 30/09/2018.