Title:
Guide track system for a drilling rig floor robot
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A guide track system is provided for a drilling rig floor robot. The system consists of a drilling floor insert having a rotary table and floor robot guide tracks disposed within the insert beneath its top surface. Spaced-apart parallel slots traverse the top surface from an edge of the insert substantially towards the rotary table. The floor robot is supported by a support member having support legs that extend downwardly through the slots into the insert to glidably couple with the guide tracks. Hydraulic rams disposed within the insert are used to move the floor robot along the guide tracks to and from the rotary table. The guide tracks are protected from drilling fluid and debris released onto the drilling rig floor as sections of drill pipe are tripped out of a drill string.



Inventors:
Lesko, Gerald (Alberta, CA)
Application Number:
11/338275
Publication Date:
02/01/2007
Filing Date:
01/24/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E21B19/18
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HARCOURT, BRAD
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DINSMORE & SHOHL LLP (CINCINNATI, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A guide track system for a drilling rig floor robot, comprising: (a) a drilling rig platform insert adapted to be mounted on a drilling rig, said insert having substantially horizontal top and bottom surfaces, said insert further comprising a vertical opening adapted to allow a drill string to pass through said insert; (b) at least one guide track means operatively disposed within said insert between said top and bottom surfaces; (c) at least one linear guide slot traversing at least partially along said top surface from an edge of said insert substantially towards said vertical opening; (d) at least one passageway disposed within said insert providing communication between said at least one guide slot to said at least one guide track means; (e) a floor robot support member adapted to support said floor robot, said support member extending downwardly from said floor robot, said support member adapted to pass through said at least one guide slot and said at least one passageway to glidably couple with said at least one guide track means; and (f) motive means operatively disposed within said insert, said motive means adapted to move said support member along said at least one guide track means whereby said floor robot is capable of moving towards and away from said vertical opening.

2. The system as set forth in claim 1 wherein: (a) said at least one guide slot comprises a pair of spaced-apart parallel linear guide slots; (b) said at least one guide track means comprises a pair of guide track means operatively disposed within said insert; (c) said at least one passageway comprises a first passageway providing communication between one of said pair of guide slots and one of said pair of guide track means and a second passageway providing communication between the other of said pair of guide slots and the other of said guide track means; and (d) said support member comprises a pair of support legs, one support leg adapted to pass through one of said guide slots and said first passageway to glidably couple with one of said guide track means, and the other support leg adapted to pass through the other of said guide slots and said second passageway to glidably couple with the other of said guide track means.

3. The system as set forth in claim 2 wherein each said guide track means comprises at least one guide rail and a plurality of guide wheels adapted to roll along said at least one guide rail.

4. The system as set forth in claim 3 wherein each at least one guide rail is operatively attached to said insert and said guide wheels are rotatably coupled to each of said support legs whereby said guide wheels roll along said guide rails when said floor robot moves towards or away from said vertical opening.

5. The system as set forth in claim 4 wherein said guide wheels are grooved about their circumference and adapted to ride along said guide rails.

6. The system as set forth in claim 2 wherein said support legs of said support member form an omega-shaped member.

7. The system as set forth in claim 1 wherein said motive means comprises at least one hydraulic ram operatively connecting said support member to said insert whereby said floor robot is able to move towards and away from said vertical opening when said at least hydraulic ram is operated.

8. The system as set forth in claim 7 wherein said motive means comprises a pair of hydraulic rams operatively connecting said support member to said insert.

9. The system as set forth in claim 1 wherein said at least one guide slot further comprises a mud fence disposed at least partially along at least one edge of said guide slot, said mud fence extending above said top surface to provide at least a partial barrier against drilling fluid from entering said at least one guide slot.

10. The system as set forth in claim 9 wherein said insert further comprises at least one drainage opening on said bottom surface that provides communication between said at least one passageway and a sump located beneath said insert, said at least one drainage opening adapted to allow drilling fluid entering said at least one passageway through at least one guide slot to drain out of said insert.

11. The system as set forth in claim 1 further comprising a drainage trough disposed between said top and bottom surfaces of said insert, and a plurality of drainage slots located on said top surface having communication with said trough whereby drilling fluid spilled on said top surface can drain through said slots to said trough, said trough adapted to guide said spilled drilling fluid away from said insert.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to guide track systems for automated floor robots used on drilling rigs.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The concept of drilling rig floor robots “power tongs” or “iron roughnecks” is not new. Numerous examples of such devices exist in the prior art. It is known that floor robots roll on the top surface of the drilling rig floor, typically on rails or tracks.

The problem with floor robots that roll on rails, tracks or recesses located on top of the drilling rig floor is that the rails, tracks or recesses are exposed to drilling fluid and/or debris that may foul the rails, tracks or recesses. When drilling pipe is tripped out of a drill string, drilling fluid is usually contained within the section of pipe being removed. When a section of pipe is disconnected from the drill string, the column of fluid contained within the pipe will drain out and onto the drilling rig floor. The drilling fluid may also contain debris or solid particles. As the drilling fluid drains onto the floor, any debris in the drilling fluid can prevent the floor robot from moving back and forth easily on the track system. In more extreme situations, the floor robot may become misaligned in its tracks and will not line up properly with the drill string to make or break joints between sections of pipe.

It is, therefore, desirable to have a guide track system for a floor robot that is not exposed to drilling fluid draining from sections of drilling pipe as they are tripped out of a drill string.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One embodiment of the present invention involves a guide track system for a drilling rig floor robot where the guide track system is located beneath the top surface of the drilling rig floor. By locating the guide track system in this manner, the guide track system is not exposed to drilling fluid spilled onto the rig floor when sections of pipe are tripped out of the drill string.

In an illustrative embodiment of the present invention, guide tracks are located underneath the drilling rig floor. In such an illustrative embodiment, the present invention may comprise a modular insert that is mounted on the drilling rig. The insert comprises a rotary table having a vertical opening through which the drill string extends therethrough. Two spaced-apart parallel slots traverse the top surface of the insert from an edge of the insert at least partially towards the rotary table. The floor robot is mounted upon a support member having a pair of spaced-apart legs that extend downwardly into the parallel slots. The guide tracks themselves are offset horizontally from the parallel slots within the insert. In an illustrative embodiment, the guide tracks are spaced further apart than the legs of the support member.

The insert further comprises passageways that connect each of the slots to the guide track nearest the slot. Each leg of the support member is shaped to extend through a passageway to glidably couple with a guide track. Each leg will have at least two or more wheels rotatably attached thereupon, the wheels adapted to roll along the guide track. To move the floor robot along the guide tracks, at least one hydraulic ram is disposed within the insert coupling the support member to the insert. The floor robot will move towards or away from the rotary table as the hydraulic ram is operated.

By providing a guide track system in accordance with the present invention, the guide wheels and guide tracks are sheltered from any drilling fluid spilled onto the drilling rig floor when sections of drill pipe are tripped out of a drill string. The insert further comprises drain slots positioned about the perimeter of the top surface of the insert that lead to a drain trough that further exits from the insert. These slots will capture much of the fluid spilt onto the drilling rig floor. The insert further comprises drainage openings on its bottom surface below the slots. Any drilling fluid that is spilt into the slots will exit from the insert through the bottom openings to a sump located below the drilling rig.

Broadly stated, one embodiment of the present invention comprises a guide track system for an automated drilling rig floor robot, comprising a drilling rig platform insert adapted to be mounted on a drilling rig, said insert having substantially horizontal top and bottom surfaces, said insert further comprising a vertical opening adapted to allow to a drill string to pass through said insert; at least one guide track means operatively disposed within said insert between said top and bottom surfaces; at least one linear guide slot traversing at least partially along said top surface from an edge of said insert substantially towards said vertical opening; at least one passageway disposed within said insert providing communication between said at least one guide slot to said at least one guide track means; a floor robot support member adapted to support said floor robot, said support member extending downwardly from said floor robot, said support member adapted to pass through said at least one guide slot and said at least one passageway to glidably couple with said at least one guide track means; and motive means operatively disposed within said insert, said motive means adapted to move said support member along said at least one guide track means whereby said floor robot is capable of moving towards and away from said vertical opening.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view depicting an insert in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention in which a floor robot is located away from a rotary table.

FIG. 2 is a front perspective view depicting the insert of FIG. 1 in which the floor robot is located above the rotary table.

FIG. 3 is a rear perspective view depicting the insert of FIG. 1 wherein a side panel and the rear panel are removed from the drilling rig insert.

FIG. 4 is a bottom plan view depicting the insert of FIG. 1 wherein the bottom panel is removed from the drilling rig insert.

FIG. 5 is a rear perspective view depicting a portion of the insert of FIG. 1 in which the floor robot is mounted on the support member.

FIG. 6 is an end elevational view depicting the insert of FIG. 1 wherein the rear panel is removed from the drilling rig insert.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, an insert 10 can include a floor robot 12, a top surface 14 and a rotary table 24. Vertical opening 26 extends through rotary table 24 to allow drilling pipe (not shown) to extend therethrough. Insert 10 is a six-sided parallelepiped structure having an internal structural frame and panels covering each of its top, bottom and side surfaces assembled together using materials in a manner suitable for use on a drilling rig as known to those skilled in the art. For the purposes of this specification, insert 10 may be a stand-alone unit that can be installed on a drilling rig (not shown) such that top surface 14 is flush with the drilling rig floor or it may be integrally formed as part of a drilling rig.

Insert 10 further comprises a pair of spaced-apart parallel slots 20 that traverse top surface 14 from an edge of insert 10 at least partially towards rotary table 24. Floor robot 12 is mounted on top of support member 16. Support member 16 comprises a pair of spaced-apart legs 32 that extend downwardly into slots 20.

In FIG. 1, floor robot 12 is positioned away from rotary table 24. This is a position typically taken by floor robot 12 during drilling operations or when a drill string (not shown) is being raised or lowered through vertical opening 26. In FIG. 2, floor robot 12 is positioned above rotary table 24 where it can make or break joints between sections of pipe as known to those skilled in the art.

Referring to FIG. 3, insert 10 is shown with a side panel and the end panel removed. Support legs 32 of support member 16 extend downwardly through slots 20 and passageways 36 to glidably couple with guide tracks 30. Extending around the perimeter of slots 20 and upwardly from top surface 14 are mud fences 22. Mud fences 22 prevent drilling fluid from running down slots 20.

Guide tracks 30 are disposed within insert 10 between top surface 14 and bottom surface 38. Guide tracks 30 can run from the rear end of insert 10 towards the front end of insert 10. Each guide track 30 comprises upper and lower guide rails 31a and 31b. In this example, guide rails 31 are triangular in cross-section although other cross-sectional shapes may be used as known to those skilled in the art. Each support leg 32 has a wheel support 33. Each wheel support 33 has a plurality of guide wheels 34 that are rotatably mounted thereupon. Guide wheels 34 can also be grooved about their circumference to ride upon guide rails 31 to improve stability. For example, if guide rails 31 are triangular, the grooves on guide wheels 34 can also be triangular. In one embodiment of the present invention, there are three wheels rotatably mounted on each wheel support 33, the outer two wheels 34 riding on the lower rail of guide rail 31 whereas the middle wheel 34 rides against the upper rail of guide rail 31.

Referring to FIG. 4, the bottom view of insert 10 is shown with the bottom panel removed. In addition to the features described above, hydraulic rams 40 may be disposed within insert 10. One end of each hydraulic ram 40 can be connected to an anchor block 44 whereas the other end can be coupled to support leg 32 with bolt 46. In operation of the depicted embodiment, floor robot 12 will move along slots 20 towards rotary table 24 when hydraulic rams 40 are contracted. Conversely, floor robot 12 will move away from rotary table 24 when hydraulic rams 40 are extended. Drainage openings 42 permit any drilling fluid that may enter insert 10 through slots 20 to drain out of insert 10 to a sump or catch basin (not shown) located beneath insert 10.

Referring to FIGS. 5 and 6, support member 16 is more clearly illustrated. In an illustrative embodiment, support legs 32 and wheel supports 33 form a support member that is omega-shaped when viewed from the rear. When insert 10 is assembled, support member 16 slides into insert 10 from the rear such that support legs 32 enter in slots 20 and passageways 36. In addition, guide wheels 34 are positioned between guide rails 31 as support member 16 is slid into insert 10.

Although a few embodiments have been shown and described, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications might be made without departing from the scope of the invention. The terms and expressions used in the preceding specification have been used herein as terms of description and not of limitation, and there is no intention in the use of such terms and expressions of excluding equivalents of the features shown and described or portions thereof, it being recognized that the scope of the invention is defined and limited only by the claims that follow.