SPRINT Robotics


SPRINT Robotics Cleaning & Fabric Maintenance Challenge

SPRINT Robotics is seeking innovators to develop new robotic solutions for Cleaning & Fabric Maintenance of Capital-Intensive Infrastructure
Award Announcement: December 2020, Date TBD

Cleaning & Fabric Maintenance can cause significant operational, economic and safety challenges. There is a strong drive within the oil and gas industry to replace traditional manual or man entry applications with new robotic tools that can streamline the workflow process, minimizing Confined Space Entries (CSEs), Scaffolding, and Rope Access activities. SPRINT Robotics is managing and executing a four to six month CFM (Cleaning & Fabric Maintenance) Challenge on behalf of several subject matter experts from major oil & gas and petrochemical companies that form the Task Force Cleaning & Fabric Maintenance. The main objective of the task force is to accelerate the development and utilization of Cleaning & Fabric Maintenance.

Members of the SPRINT Robotics Cleaning and Fabric Maintenance Task Force:

  • BP
  • Chevron
  • Dow
  • Equinor
  • Saudi Aramco
  • SBM Offshore
  • Shell
  • Total


CFM Challenge - Request for Proposal

Seeking adaptable and demonstrable robotic solutions that can be used for the Cleaning & Fabric Maintenance of capital-intensive infrastructure.

Request for Proposal Description
On behalf of the Task Force Cleaning & Fabric Maintenance, SPRINT Robotics is seeking proposals to find demonstrable robotic technologies that can be used for the cleaning & fabric maintenance of storage tanks, pressure vessels, process piping, and their associated supporting infrastructure. The focus is on existing and new robotic tools near commercialization that can eliminate Confined Space Entries (CSE), Scaffolding, or Rope Access (RA) while performing cleaning and/or fabric maintenance tasks.

The proposed solution should meet the following requirements:

• Ability to move and get into position without requiring a CSE/Rope Access/Scaffolding, adaptable to different size assets, locations and geometries
• Can traverse and move around (simple) obstacles
• Ideally achieve 100% coverage area on the asset (internal or external)
• Portable solutions that can be rapidly set-up and dismantled and are compliant with offshore and onshore Health, Safety, Environment and Quality (HSEQ) requirements
• Novel solutions – any contribution that brings us closer to the goal (e.g. faster than manual one person with nozzle)
• Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 4+ preferably near or close to market solutions, although novel prototype solutions will also be evaluated

Task Considerations:
• Ability to do dry blasting SSPC-SP-10 or slurry blasting SSPC-SP-10 or water jetting SSPC-SP-12 WJ2 according to the NACE/SSPC standards and at least faster than the average time when compared to the legacy manual method (e.g. one person with nozzle)
• Able to surface prep and apply coating to horizontal, vertical, and upside down/underside, e.g. magnetic or flying for inaccessible or difficult to reach areas such as in corners
• Airless spray robot that sprays a large area in one pass; or conventional spray robot with multiple nozzles that spray a large area in one pass that is faster than the legacy manual method
• Provide uniform coating film thickness consistently (i.e. dry film thickness or dft)
• Can set dimensions and the robot automatically surface preps and sprays the area
• It is also Ideal to have a vacuum for sediment and hazardous debris removal (e.g. hydrocarbon bearing product or lead paint)

Full or partial solutions are welcome from all industries and scientific areas.



In the oil and gas and petrochemical industry, a large number of critical assets such as storage tanks, pressure vessels, and process piping undergo routine out of service inspections. These regularly timed maintenance intervals begin with preparing the asset for a thorough examination. Often, due to the challenging geometries and hard to access areas of the asset, manual human operation of these cleaning and fabric maintenance tasks is carried out requiring some form of CSE’s, scaffolding, and rope access for entry. Manual water jetting and blasting at high pressure can be hazardous to the operator before adding the complexity of a CSE, for example.

In particular, the highest incidents of cleaning and fabric maintenance activities are caused by CSEs, as per industry statistics. Current cleaning and fabric maintenance tools available are being identified as candidates for robotization. One consideration is their ability to access susceptible locations quickly and routinely, with very limited to no manual human intervention. Additionally, there is a strong drive to replace traditional cleaning and fabric maintenance tasks to a more remotely performed operation, which eliminates manual labor-intensive tasks and results in a significant reduction of exposure hours while also improving the quality, speed, and overall safety of the maintenance activity workflow. The CFM Challenge focuses on demonstrable robotic solutions that can address cleaning and fabric maintenance activities on magnetic storage tanks, pressure vessels, and piping systems that can reduce the overall maintenance cost and safety risks associated.

Participants that have been shortlisted for the CFM Challenge will be invited to the Task Force Cleaning & Fabric Maintenance virtual meeting to demonstrate their technology. As a consortium of owner and operator Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), the Task Force Cleaning & Fabric Maintenance is responsible for the direct oversight of the CFM Challenge. From start-ups to leading oil & gas and petrochemical service providers, technology developers have the opportunity to work in consultation with the Task Force SMEs. SPRINT Robotics, a not-for-profit organization aimed at accelerating the utilization and development of robotics for inspection and maintenance of capital-intensive infrastructure, is the organizer of the CFM Challenge. Through innovation initiatives and domain knowledge, SPRINT Robotics is uniquely positioned to support the innovation process of robotics from concepts to solutions.


The Task Force Cleaning & Fabric Maintenance has defined the following five challenges. From the proposals submitted, the reviewing committee will announce the shortlisted proposals from the five different challenge categories. The winning solution provider will receive a reward of €50.000 and the opportunity to further develop their solution and its application.


CFM Challenge #1: Crude Storage Tanks

Business Case
Oil and gas tank farms around the globe are experiencing an oversupply of hydrocarbons resulting in decreased ability for offline inspection and maintenance of aboveground storage tanks. Developing solutions capable of providing insight to the quality of the tank floor, floor coating, tank shell, roof, nozzles/appurtenances while cleaning can reduce the amount of rework needed when accomplishing separate tasks (i.e. cleaning + inspection).
• API 620 and 650 Storage tanks diameter: average size 200’ to 300’+
• Manway: Average size of 22”
• Level of sediment or debris: 8-10 feet (20 pounds per gallon estimate)
• Temperatures: Crude stored at 180°F, some may be stored higher
• Encourage Cleaning + Inspection: E.g. remaining wall thickness in tank floor, sediment profiling in service, coating inspection on the floor and walls, etc.
Application: In-Service or Out-of-Service Cleaning of and Fabric Maintenance of large crude tanks
For in-service applications, the intent is to mitigate or eliminate the buildup of sediment and debris from in-service tanks while also collecting inspection data; alternatively, for out-of-service, the aim is to return to service faster than what is commercially available.
Features that could be included but are not limited to:
• Floor plate inspection, i.e. remaining wall thickness
• Critical area floor plate inspection
• Plate settlement
• Sludge profiling
• Coating inspection and removal
• Surface preparation and coating application
• System for cleanup
• Sludge or sediment and hazardous debris removal

CFM Challenge #2: Pressure Vessels

Business Case
The SPRINT Robotics Action Group Pressure Vessels released the first version of the “Guidelines for the Application of Robotics for the Offline Inspection of Pressure Vessels”. Identified as a barrier for deployment, there is a significant opportunity to further accelerate robotic inspection technologies by first addressing cleaning and fabric maintenance.
Parameters e.g. Horizontal/vertical Separator with internals
• Materials: Carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminum and aluminum alloys, carbon steel alloys, exotic alloys, often nickel or titanium based
• Manway size: 20”
• Substances: Solids, liquids, waxes
• Methods: Water jetting, blasting, steam Out (366°F)
• Considerations: 3-5k PSI cleaning with internal liners (intent is to keep coating intact, without damage, e.g. glass liners, or Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP))
• Safety: 4/5 Gas Detection, LEL %
• Inspection: API 510 internal (visual + UT, pit gauge and 3D scanning)
Application: Internal out-of-service Cleaning & Fabric Maintenance
Aim: Routine inspection of pressure vessels is required to ensure safe operations; eliminating personnel entry (CSE) into these environments would significantly improve safety, while decreasing the time associated with the asset outage
Features that could be included but are not limited to:
• Vortex breaker
• Splash plate
• Separator
• Demister
• Diffuser
• Tray
• Ladder
• Washing facilities usually in the base of a vessel to allow water jetting to assist online removal of process residues

CFM Challenge #3: Process Piping

Business Case
Pipelines are routinely inspected by inserting sensors into the pipeline generating an initial survey, prove up is then carried out by performing digs and exposing the buried pipeline for further evaluation (for example). Removal of coatings and insulation is necessary to access bare metal for high resolution inspection which is very challenging when performed with ordinary hand tools. As an example, robotizing this process would enable a better workflow for operators carrying out a significant number of digs per year.
• Piping Diameter: 12”-24” NPS vertical and horizontal sections
• Coating material for buried systems: (the majority of most oil and gas pipelines), the almost-universal standard pipeline coating is fusion bond epoxy (FBE) powder systems
• Coating material for pump & compressor stations: typically an inorganic Zinc primer, an intermediate coat of epoxy, then a top coat of polyurethane for color and gloss retention
• Cladding Material: Aluminium, stainless steel or galvanized steel weather jacket
Features that could be included but are not limited to:
• Straight and vertical segments of pipe
• 90° elbows and tees
• Pipe reducers
• Pipe supports
• Headers
• Welded connections
• Nozzles
• Small bore fittings
• Flange sets
• Trenches/trench boxes

CFM Challenge #4: Floating, Production, Storage, & Offloading (FPSOs)

Business Case
Costs associated with cleaning and fabric maintenance of hazardous material can be a multiple of that same task if performed with non-hazardous materials. Taking these activities into an offshore environment takes these costs significantly higher, leaving more opportunities to create value. In general, complex elevated surfaces with limited access prove to be a continuous challenge for asset management. Addressing cleaning and fabric maintenance from a robotics perspective could significantly impact maintenance operations and costs due to the elimination of scaffolding or rope access, as well as CSE exposure hours while accelerating the maintenance schedule and improving overall efficiency.
• Multi-floor, tight confined spaces, floor obstacles (e.g. I-beam)
• Washing would be path of least resistance for robotic application, versus testing (e.g. dft, soluble salts)
• Remotely operated blasting (priority), main advantage is that the operator is far away from the hazardous operation
• Surface preparation and painting, visual inspection (secondary), next step in the workflow is to remotely paint without having to erect scaffolding and perform a CSE

CFM Challenge #5: Open Call for Cleaning & Fabric Maintenance Robotics

The SPRINT Robotics Collaborative aims to accelerate the utilization and development of robotics for the inspection and maintenance of capital intensive infrastructure.
SPRINT Robotics has released two robotic application guidelines: “Guidelines for the Application of Robotics for In-service Inspection of Aboveground Storage Tanks” and “Guidelines for the Application of Robotics for the Offline Inspection of Pressure Vessels”, which are now both moving towards their second revision.
As of January 1, 2020, SPRINT Robotics has shifted the focus from inspection technologies to cleaning technologies, as there is significant synergy (i.e. one enables the other)
This open call is for any solutions that may not be applicable to any one asset, or could perhaps address them all.


Submission Guidelines

Proposal Submission:
Participants must submit their proposal via the form below by August 31, 2020 midnight CDT

Submission requirements:
• Include a short abstract (between 250-500 words) describing your teams’ expertise, capabilities, technology and an overview of your proposed solution
• Non-Confidential description of technology & method
– Working principle(s)
– Technology maturity & Technology Readiness Level (lab-scale tested, pilot scale tested, suitable for practical use)
– Estimated requirements for possible participation in the virtual demonstration trial
• Any information provided in the proposal is deemed to be non-confidential
• Any supporting data (videos, reports, etc.) can be submitted upon request
• Email the requested information to with the subject title: “CFM CHALLENGE PROPOSAL – (Company/Organization Name)”.

Screening & Evaluation:
The proposal will be reviewed and assessed by the Task Force Cleaning & Fabric Maintenance, a multi-disciplinary team of Subject Matter Experts against the key success criteria.

Participants Announcement:
The shortlisted participants will be selected for the virtual demonstration round and will be asked to prepare a demonstration program with a task risk analysis, safety plans and operations procedures.

Participants Demonstration:
Shortlisted participants will be invited to virtually demonstrate their technology. The robotic solutions will be evaluated against key success criteria.



  • CFM Challenge open: July 1, 2020
  • Proposal Submission Deadline: August 31, 2020, midnight CDT
  • Screening & Evaluation: September 2020
  • Participants Announcement: October 8, 2020
  • Participants Demonstration: October 22 & 23, 2020
  • Award Announcement: December 2020

Review Process

The review of all proposal submissions will be conducted by the SPRINT Robotics Task Force Cleaning & Fabric Maintenance. SPRINT Robotics reserves the sole and absolute right and discretion to select the shortlisted proposals and the winner. The proposal evaluation and winner selection will be made by the SPRINT Robotics Task Force Cleaning & Fabric Maintenance.


Winning Solution

The winning solution provider will receive a reward of €50.000, and the opportunity to further develop their solution and its application through direct meetings with the Task Force assisting the overall development program with asset owner insights. Additionally, the solution is intended to be deployed on a client site (or virtually in a simulated environment), where the providers can see their solutions in action and gain valuable information from the full-scale real-world deployment.
For further information, please contact:


CFM Challenge Terms and Conditions