Inuktun Sighting #11: TESRA S.A. Inspects Mine Pipeline with Versatrax 150™

"TESRA" stands for Technology and Engineering Services for Radical Advancement.

And no wonder.

High up in the mountains of Chile at 3,200 metres, three pipelines stretch from the Escondida mine all the way down to the port city of Antofagasta, 150 kilometres to the northwest.

These slurry lines are in operation 24/7, 365 days a year, stopping just once a week for a 12-hour window to inspect the internal HDPE liner.  And, to make things even more challenging, only one pipe can be out of service at a time and the largest ones are only nine inches in diameter.

Surrounded by stunning mountainous beauty, TESRA’s pipe inspection team doesn’t have time to sightsee.

“We usually get windows of 12 hours once every two weeks to open the flanges and run an inspection of 500 metres in each direction from the flange,” said TESRA’s General Manager, Gerardo Olivares. “We must be able to complete the inspection in four hours for each side and allow two hours to close the flange.”

On this job, two members of the team must stand hip deep in ice cold water to deploy an inline Versatrax 150™ into the pipelines while other members keep the tether straight.

With a range of up to 457 metres and the ability to travel nine metres per minute, this kind of job is exactly what the VT150 was designed for. Clutched tracks for quick vehicle retrieval, a high quality colour camera for outstanding image clarity, waterproof to 60 metres, and a solid track record around the globe, the VT150 is the go-to inspection solution for TESRA’s pipe inspection projects. 

Because up here, downtime is not an option.

“The equipment has to be 100 percent reliable,” said Gerardo. “Any defect found that could turn into a broken pipeline is immediately (reported) and the company starts their procedure to change or repair.  We cannot fail completing an inspection due to failures with the robot. That is totally unacceptable.”

#InuktunInTheWild is global! Wherever you're reading this from, remember to snap a photo of Inuktun gear in the field for a chance to be featured here.