Getting the most out of your vessel cleaning process

January 5, 2022

Vessels and treaters are among the most varied and challenging pieces of equipment to tackle on any industrial cleaning job.

Due to their small size relative to tanks, it isn’t possible to use full-sized tank cleaning tools inside vessels. Additionally, many vessels are in high-up or hard-to-reach places, meaning that it’s nearly impossible to mount full-sized equipment on them in an effective way.

Current vessel cleaning equipment is big and bulky, oftentimes consisting of two nozzles that use water pressure to rotate inside the tank.

It is also heavy and must be lifted by a crane, meaning that if there are obstructions that prevent the crane from reaching a particular nozzle, it will be much more difficult to clean that vessel.

Plus, by their nature, vessels are small and require confined space entry certification for a person to get inside and clean. They also require specialized crews, training, and equipment and often don’t command the same kind of revenue that cleaning a large-sized tank does. In other words, from a purely financial standpoint, vessel cleaning is expensive and impractical at best.

The Process

Vessels are essentially small tanks, albeit with a few added challenges. So, the process for cleaning a vessel is largely the same as it is for cleaning its larger counterpart.

First, the vessel is modelled using Radical Software’s VantageSuite project management software, which has recently been updated to include a whole range of tools geared towards vessel projects.

This part of the system allows you to layout your vessel with all its nozzles, manways and internal and external obstructions to determine how best to attack the job.

It will also allow you to simulate the entire process from start to finish, just like you would do on a larger tank to fully flesh out how best to attack the job at hand. This means that you’ll be able to quote your job accurately and present your client with a 3D realization of your proposed cleaning process.

It’s important to have a clear idea of what you need in terms of equipment and where that equipment needs to be placed to clean the vessel as efficiently as possible.

Next, it’s time to clean the vessel. This is where the vessel cleaning process deviates somewhat from the tank cleaning process, particularly using the Radical Robotics system.

Whereas on a big tank, you would use tank sweeps and a Circulation Management Tank to circulate the product inside the tank, the size and shape of a vessel make that process impractical at best.

Unlike their larger counterparts, vessels come in all shapes and sizes and can also be located in some extremely difficult-to-reach places. This can include high up in the air on scaffolding or surrounded by other vessels and various equipment.

Naturally, this creates an issue of access. Existing tank and vessel cleaning tools are heavy, requiring the use of a crane to move and mount. If the crane can’t get to the nozzle the tool is being mounted on, then it’s impossible to mount the tool. This means that the vessel cleaning process naturally suffers from inefficiencies, as it sometimes isn’t possible to mount the right tool to the right spot to get the job done as effectively as possible.

Just imagine trying to mount a heavy 6” sweep or manway cannon to a vessel located 20’ in the air and you’ll have a pretty good idea as to why it just doesn’t work.

So, the team over at Radical Robotics came up with a solution: a small, lightweight tool that has the flexibility to act as both a tank sweep and, if needed, high-pressure water cannon, all while being small enough to fit through a 4” nozzle.

The Radical Robotics Vessel Cleaning Tool

This is the latest tool in the Radical Robotics range of industrial cleaning equipment. Designed specifically for streamlining the vessel cleaning process, the Radical Robotics Vessel Cleaning Tool was created to work on vessels of all shapes and sizes.

Built to withstand any abuse the job site can throw at it, the Radical VCT is completely hand-portable, weighing in at under 90 lbs.

This means that it can easily be rigged up by two people without the use of a crane, allowing you to avoid any obstructions such as scaffolding or other vessels that may impede access to your entry points.

Unlike other vessel cleaning tools on the market, which rotate randomly within the vessel using water pressure, the Radical VCT can be directly controlled to spot clean specific areas of the unit or programmed to perform a wash cycle using the Radical VantageSuite.

This means that the entire process is orders of magnitude more efficient, as an operator can take manual control to work on a specific area of the vessel.

Plus, like all Radical Robotics equipment, the VCT ties interfaces with the VantageSuite to ensure that the initial plan is executed to perfection.

That connectivity with the VantageSuite also has the effect of making the VCT easy to use. Rather than a vessel cleaning job requiring a separate crew with separate equipment, the tool’s ability to tie into the Radical system makes it possible for a crew on site cleaning a tank to pull the VCT out of the command centre and clean a vessel at the same time using the same setup, essentially doing two jobs for the price of one.

The VCT is also totally configurable based on the situation it is being used in.

For example, the central shaft can be moved backwards and forwards to ensure that you can clean as much of the vessel as possible without ever moving the tool.

A high flow nozzle allows for quick and efficient debulking of the vessel with the option to hook up a Radical Robotics Circulation Management Tank to maximize this process.

Once the vessel is debulked, the tool can be converted to a higher-pressure, low flow nozzle for final cleaning.

All these features are geared towards making the tool as versatile as possible, which is extremely important when you’re working on equipment with form factors as diverse as vessels can have.

The tool can be deployed in any position on the vessel provided there is a 4” or larger nozzle, eliminating any issues with obstructions blocking water flow and allowing for the process to be completely zero-entry.

Larger Vessels

The Radical Robotics VCT makes it much easier to get into and clean smaller vessels with fewer and smaller access points than conventional tanks.

However, in some cases vessels can be too large for a single VCT to efficiently tackle the job.

This is where Radical Robotics’ existing tank cleaning tools can make all the difference.

Specifically, the Radical Robotics manway cannon can be mounted to manways on the ends or walls of vessels to bring a full 498 lbs. force of impact force to get the job done.

This will clean out the bulk of the solids inside the vessel before the VCT is used to get the hard-to-reach places that the manway cannon can’t because of obstructions inside the vessel such as walls and baffles.

Similarly, the Circulation Management Tank can be used during the vessel cleaning process to recover and reuse liquid from the cleaning process. This means that the job will use less water and cutter stock, cutting costs and maximizing the amount of product that can be recovered while also ensuring that the whole system runs as smoothly as possible.


While vessels have always provided a unique challenge in the industrial cleaning space.

Their small size and inaccessibility make them extremely difficult to tackle using traditional zero-entry equipment.

That’s why the design team at Radical Robotics decided to focus their considerable creative and technical resources on making the vessel cleaning process as smooth as possible with the launch of the new Vessel Cleaning Tool.

To learn more about the Radical Robotics vessel cleaning system and how it can revolutionize your own processes, get in touch with us!

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