Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Robot Inspector

A prototype robotic NDT inspection system for large welded plates was designed, built and evaluated.

Steel and aluminium plates are inspected extensively during manufacture and fabrication - this inspection is often done manually in hazardous environments, by skilled personnel. It has been proven that such difficult conditions may reduce the operating ability of such technicians, leading to poor performance and low-quality subjective assessments. There is a need for an autonomous mobile NDT system that is versatile, portable and is able to perform in hazardous environment with little or no human intervention. The major economic objectives of Robot Inspector are a significant cost reduction in inspection of large plates in the factory. The major social and environmental objectives are elimination of labour intensive, monotonous and hazardous inspection tasks, elimination of error due to operator stress and subjective test data and a substantial decrease in leaks from storage tanks.

The Robot Inspector system is primarily designed for the following industries, but may be used on any large welded plate: ship building, construction of aboveground storage tanks and steelyards.

The need for effective inspection systems has grown in the EU over recent years, due to the increase in the number of ageing aboveground storage tanks, and an increase in the requirements of the end-users of large steel plates. This has been caused by the number of aboveground storage tanks that are near the end of their useful life, and by the expansion of the EU to central and Eastern Europe. The oil and power companies in the former eastern bloc countries have relatively old aboveground storage tanks. The market for such a system is expected to increase over the next ten years, due to the exponential increase in environmental and safety legislation, and the integration of the former eastern bloc countries into the European community.

The main specification was to develop a robotic NDT inspection system for large welded plates, capable of detecting corrosion on both sides of plates, laminations and segregation in plates and defects in welded joints.

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