Request for Proposal
Status: RFP is Closed

Cost-Effective Installation of Small Sensors on Insulated Pipes

Request Number
Due Date
Aug 29, 2019
Program Manager


Product acquisition, licensing, supplier agreement, proof of concept leading to scale-up to manufacturing.


Phase 1 – proposal evaluation (1 month)

Phase 2 – method testing (Q4 2019)

Phase 3 – commercial application (mid 2020)


Phase 1: the proposals selected for phase 2 will be awarded with 5,000€

Phase 2: costs related to the trials are to be discussed

RFP was closed on
Sep 2019

RFP Title


Cost-Effective Installation of Small Sensors on Insulated Pipes
RFP Description

NineSigma, representing Equinor ASA, invites proposals for a method that permits the cost-effective installation of small sensors at the bottom (at 6 o’clock) of insulated pipes on an industrial scale (thousands of sensors). To install the sensor, a 16 mm wide hole needs to be made through a 0.6 mm thick stainless steel jacket. The purpose of the call is to find an innovative and  cost-effective alternative to manual installations that use scaffolding.


Equinor wishes to install small, wireless sensors at regular intervals on insulated pipes. Most of the pipes are not easily accessible (e.g. suspended at heights and often with limited free space around them). The standard way to work on these pipes is by erecting a scaffold to allow access for a work crew. Scaffolding is not only work-hour intensive but also expensive, and carries a safety hazard when installing, using and removing. Since there are several hundred kilometers of pipes, installation of the sensors can be very slow and costly. Therefore, Equinor would like to learn if there are methods that can significantly reduce installation costs (e.g. at least 50% fewer work-hours compared to scaffolding).


Anticipated Project Phases or Project Plan

Phase 1 – Proposal Evaluation

  • Equinor will evaluate the proposals using the information submitted in the response template
  • Up to 10 promising proposals will be contacted for a more in-depth discussion
  • Up to 5 proposals will be selected for participation to the field trial


Phase 2 – Method Testing

  • Field trial at a client specified location
  • Demonstration of the method, including the setting up and dismantling procedure (if applicable)
  • Trial will be to install and anchor 20 sensors over a 10 meter long pipe section (see Annex 1)
  • Initial evaluation of method costs


Phase 3 – Commercial Application

  • Further optimization of operating parameters and performance before going to large scale use
Key Success Criteria

Equinor invites proposals with the following properties:

Performance for the field trial:

  • Allow access to and be able to do work on a section of insulated pipe. The pipe outer diameter will be 320 mm. The pipe will be at 2.5 meter height. See Annex 1 – Schematic Pipe Section for the Trial
  • Work will be to make a 16 mm hole at the bottom (at 6 o’clock) of the pipe and subsequently anchor a sensor (see Annex 2 for sensor dimensions). Cladding must not be damaged during installation.
  • Must not pose ‘Health, Safety and Environmental’ hazards to site or operators
  • Reduce work-hours to reduce cost and exposure

'Nice to haves':

  • Able to operate with a small mechanical footprint around the pipe. Free space around the pipes can be less than 1 meter, sometimes only 100 mm being available.
  • Able to operate on bent pipes or complex sections of pipes
  • Compliance to explosive atmosphere

Financials/business targets:

  • Allowing a significant (e.g. > 50%) labor reduction for accessing pipes and installing sensors. The work-hours for installing a scaffold around the 10 meter pipe section used for the test, performing the sensor installation work and removing the scaffold is estimated to be 30 work-hours. The target is to do the work within 15 work-hours.

Technology readiness:

  • Preferred solutions should be ready for the trial by end of 2019 (or 3 months after selection by Equinor)


  • A single all encompassing solution may not be available. Proposals from organizations believing they have part of the solution are encouraged to participate and should describe how they would fit into an overall solution and if possible point to other sources for any missing elements. The partial solution should be testable.
  • Equinor will not provide manufacturing or integration facilities. All work is expected to be provided by third parties.
  • Equinor does not expect exclusivity. Successful participants have the potential to offer their technology to other customers in order to increase scale and economies.
Possible Approaches

Full or partial solutions are welcome from all industries and scientific areas. Possible approaches might include, but are not limited to:

  • Robotics based solutions, e.g. crawling around the pipe
  • Drones accessing the pipes and able to make a hole before placing the sensor
  • Lightweight, easy to erect and dismantle scaffolding
  • Any approaches that require minimal manual intervention
Approaches not of Interest

The following approaches are not of interest:

  • Standard scaffolding approaches relying on low-cost labor
  • Use of standard cherry pickers, trucks with basket, scissor lifts
  • Proposals based on rope access since these will create even more safety risks
  • Research proposals that might deliver against the requirements at some indefinable future point
Items to be Submitted

Your response should address the following:

  • Non-Confidential description of technology, method or equipment
    • Working principle
    • Supporting data
    • Technology maturity (lab-scale tested, pilot scale tested, suitable for practical use)
  • Estimated development requirements for possible participation in the field trial including timing and budget
  • Estimated operating costs when in commercial use
  • Preferred business relationship
  • Intellectual property status
  • Short overview of team behind the proposal and expertise in this or related fields


Appropriate responses to this Request

Responses from companies (small to large), researchers, consultants, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, or inventors are welcome.  For example:


You represent a company that has developed novel robotic tools suitable for this request

You represent an engineering company that has a suitable procedure for sensors deployment

You represent an inventor who designed a novel drone system able to do drilling work

You represent an academic researcher working on a humanoid robot that should be suitable

Preferred Collaboration Types
Area of Interest