World-first pipeline technology designed to revolutionise performance and safety in industries around the world will be showcased for the first time later this month.

The development of the first ever FSWBot, Friction Stir Welding Robotic Crawler for internal repair and refurbishment of pipelines has been led by Forth Engineering, which has offices in Cleator Moor, Maryport and Barrow.

The FSWBot project will be presented at a British Manufacturing and Fabrication in the Offshore Energy Industry event in Aberdeen on November 27.

A presentation on the FSWBot has also been accepted at an Offshore Pipeline Technology Conference in Amsterdam in February.

It will also be presented at a Friction Stir Welding International Symposium in Kyoto, Japan, in May.

Peter Routledge, Forth Engineering project manager, said: “We are getting a lot of interest and enquiries about the FSWBot from across the globe. Interest is really building, including from America and Canada. ”

The project, sponsored by Innovate UK, integrates several state-of-the-art technologies including friction stir welding, milling, patch deployment and ultrasonic NDT, onto a robotic system which can be used to conduct repairs on pipelines without the need for the pipeline to be closed down.

If successful, it is envisaged that the system could be further developed to carry out a range of repair and fabrication tasks.

The FSWBot received funding from UK Innovate last year for a consortium led by Forth Engineering to develop a ‘proof of concept’ system.

Forth Engineering is working with consortium members TWI, J4IC, Innvotek and LSBU on the project.

The development of the FSWBot is ongoing with the project due to be completed by end of January 2021.

The consortium wants to hear from companies which might have an interest in the system so they can consider potential needs and applications.

They hope this will help ensure its benefits can be brought to as many industry sectors as possible while the technology is being developed.

Mark Telford, managing director of Forth, said: “As a company we have developed a worldwide reputation for developing a range of robotic solutions for use in harsh environments.

“The tools we have developed over the years have been for, and used by, Sellafield, to successfully solve challenges in the nuclear industry. So our technology is tried and tested in harsh environments.

“There’s a fantastic opportunity for other businesses and organisations in the UK and across the world, whether that’s other nuclear operations, or oil and gas, renewables, and perhaps areas we haven’t even thought of, to make use of that technology, and to share their challenges so we can develop the FSWBot in ways to help them.

“There are industries all over the world which face their own similar issues and by sharing knowledge and collaborating we can help each other overcome some of those challenges.

“At the moment, an industry, a company, or an organisation, may see their only solution as sending a person into that extremely hazardous area. But that costs a huge amount of money, takes a lot of time, and is, by the very nature of the situation, putting people’s lives at risk.

“We are very keen to talk to any businesses or organisations who are faced with that type of challenge and discuss with them alternative solutions to the problems they face.

“We would far rather those businesses talked to us and shared what their own particular issues are. That way we can see if we can help them. Because at the end of the day, that business, or organisation, might be able to save time, money and potentially save lives, just by talking to us and sharing with us the issue they face.”