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Gazprom Neft unveils its first robotized aviation refuelling complex

Gazprom Neft has unveiled its concept for a robotized fuel-loading system for airfield tankers at Sheremetyevo Airport, with the process of aviation fuel loading, for the first time, being undertaken in Russia automatically, and unmanned, helped by a "manipulation system" or robotic arm.

This robotic arm is now being tested prior to its subsequent rollout at airport refuelling complexes, with the pilot project being implemented by Gazpromneft-Aero and Gazprom Neft’s Digital Innovation Centre (DIC) together with the Russian State Scientific Centre for Robotics and Technical Cybernetics (RTC) under an agreement signed at the 2018 St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The implementation of robotized technologies is one of the key stages in implementing the concept of full automation in technological process management at Gazprom Neft’s state-of-the art aviation refuelling complexes — the technologies behind robotic arms delivering optimum efficiency and safety.

Gazpromneft-Aero CEO Vladimir Egorov commented: «Gazpromneft-Aero is a technological leader in Russia’s aviation refuelling industry. Introducing cutting-edge management systems, robotized solutions and online tracking and accounting of oil products’ transportation throughout the logistics chain — from tank-farm deliveries to "wing-tip" refuelling — is allowing us to improve the business’ operational efficiency and ensure the company’s market competitiveness.»

Vladimir Vorkachev, Head of Gazprom Neft PJSC’s Digital Innovation Centre, stressed: «Helped by digital and robotised technologies, we can free people from having to work with dangerous facilities, increasing safety and making work faster. All processes will be managed from a remote control point, online. Supported by predictive analysis, this will help eliminate any potential deviations from norm before they occur, ensuring optimum safety in the technological processes involved in fuel transportation.»

Igor Dalyaev, Deputy Chief Designer at the Russian State Scientific Centre for Robotics and Technical Cybernetics, added: «In presenting this complex our experts have developed special docking equipment, as well as a unique computer vision system and reliable control algorithms. The new manipulation system will allow the process of refuelling airfield tankers to be fully automated, significantly reducing the volume of manned operations».

The next step in implementing this project will be integrating the robotic system into the wider automated process control system at Gazprom Neft’s aviation refuelling complexes. The development of the "digital tank farm" forms part of an extensive draft roadmap covering projects involved in Gazprom Neft’s digital transformation of its business.

In addition to its robot-tanker Gazprom Neft is also concurrently working on other projects involving the use of mechatronic systems.* Together with leading domestic enterprises, the DIC is actively involved in developing automated complexes to be used in shipping oil products from refineries, as well as in developing self-driving vehicles for internal logistics and product quality analysis systems.

* A mechatronic system is an integrated complex of electromechanical, electrohydraulic, and electronic components and computer technology, facilitating the continuous and fluctuating interchange of energy and information, united through a common automated control system involving some elements of artificial intelligence (AI).

Notes for editors

Gazpromneft-Aero is a subsidiary of Gazprom Neft. The company has been providing aircraft refuelling services and selling aviation fuel at airports since 1 January, 2008. Since December 2008, Gazpromneft Aero has been a strategic partner of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in the field of aviation fuel supply.

Gazpromneft-Aero is the leading aviation fuel supplier on the Russian market in terms of its retail sales. The company’s operational activities are fully compliant with the highest safety standards in fuelling operations: Green

The Gazprom Neft Digital Innovation Centre (DIC) was established in April 2018 to develop and subsequently implement digital technologies in logistics, oil refining and sales. As part of the centre’s activities the company plans to bring together the resources and strengths of Russian technological and IT start-ups, developer companies and the scientific community in finding and developing innovative solutions for improving business efficiency.

The centre is focussed on developing breakthrough digital products designed to create an integrated technological platform for Gazprom Neft in logistics, processing and sales.

The Russian State Scientific Centre for Robotics and Technical Cybernetics (RTC) is one of the largest research centres in Russia. The Institute has a developed scientific and research and design-engineering base, unique test facilities and pilot production. The institute’s main inventions include mobile robotic systems for specific applications and safety, land, air and marine radiation monitoring systems, soft landing control systems and spacecraft life support systems, medical facilities for minimally invasive surgery, computer vision systems for security and object management, on-ground orientation systems for aviation, land and water vehicles, network processors (screens), automated laser beam machines for marking, welding and cutting, and information security systems.