Remote handling

Remote handling

Remote handling is the synergistic combination of technology and engineering management systems to enable operators to safely, reliably and repeatedly perform manipulation of items without being in personal contact with those items.


Remote handling is the discipline which combines the technologies of teleoperation, or telerobotics with the management and organizational disciplines required to prepare and run a remote operation application.

Remote handling is typically required for manipulation of items in environments which are either hostile to humans (e.g outer space, subsea or nuclear) or of a scale which is inaccessible to humans (e.g micro-surgery, nano-assembly or mega-assembly).

Industry based remote handling projects of these types will invariably be subject to constraints imposed by safety and other regulatory bodies. These constraints can be either technical in nature or programmatic or both and are motivated by the need to ensure safety and best practice in operation of remote manipulation systems. Additionally, commercial pressures will require efficient and effective operation of the remote manipulation activities and an audit trail similar to that required by the regulatory bodies.

All of these issues have an impact on the design, the manufacture, the integration and the commissioning of the remote manipulation equipment and also on the preparation and qualification of the methods, procedures and staff required for a remote operations campaign.

Remote handling equipment

In order to implement a remote operation campaign it is necessary to select and prepare the appropriate remote manipulation systems. The systems will involve some or all of the following:-

*manipulation devices
*task based tooling
*viewing / environment sensing equipment
*transporters to move manipulators/tools/viewing equipment into position
*services supply systems
*infrastructure systems
*safety equipment
*post operation cleaning equipment
*in-service maintenance facilities
*Human-Machine Interfaces

Remote handling operations

In view of the fact that remote operations will be conducted in environments either hostile or inaccessible to humans it is clear that any problems encountered during ‘live’ operations has the potential to cause serious and very expensive delays. A remote operation encountering an unexpected technical problem has first to identify the cause and then to prepare and prove a remedial process and finally conduct the repair or recovery operation – all without any personnel being able to access the working environment or the remote handling equipment.

The severe consequences of encountering such unplanned events leads remote handling practitioners to ensure that all possible credible eventualities are considered a-priori and appropriate preparations put in place.

The preparations must include consideration of how to identify and deal with faults on remote handling equipment, how to recover and repair failed remote handling equipment, how to conduct all planned remote handling tasks, how to plan and manage the logistics of remote equipment and plant component deployment. All this to be planned and demonstrated in advance to the regulatory bodies as working under safe and best practice.


A successful remote handling practitioner should be able to specify and integrate together the appropriate technologies, organizational and management activities necessary to prepare, implement and conclude a successful remote operations campaign (as measured against its technical aims, safety, cost and schedule requirements).


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