Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Using robots to enhance industrial maintenance

Routine inspection and maintenance can be anything but routine in large industrial settings. An EU initiative has developed autonomous robotic technology to protect capital investment and promote human safety.
Using robots to enhance industrial maintenance
Efficient and effective maintenance is important in all industrial settings. In environments with intensive capital investment and in which operator or inspector safety is an issue, maintenance solutions are even more imperative.

The EU-funded MAINBOT (Mobile robots for inspection and maintenance activities in extensive industrial plants) project adapted wheeled mobile platforms and climbing robots to autonomously inspect equipment in very large production plants through the integration of multiple robotic sensing technologies. To achieve this, MAINBOT developed ground and climbing robot prototypes to check equipment positioned either horizontally or vertically.

Partners defined six operations for which solutions were developed. These consist of detection or measurement of mirror reflectivity, heat transfer fluid leakage, coating degradation, broken mirrors, vacuum loss in collector pipes, and corrosion and cracks. They derived the requirements of the robotic platforms in terms of safety and reliability.

MAINBOT developed simulation environments and two physical mock-ups for testing. The ground mock-up assessed the performance of the navigation and manipulation algorithms while the vertical mock-up evaluated the climbing and sensor positioning methods with the climbing robot. In addition, the robotic platforms were adapted based on the required specifications. Several inspection technologies were also advanced.

The final robot prototypes were successfully validated in two thermal solar plants.

Thanks to MAINBOT, industries that require major capital investment can better address the particular maintenance problems of their large installations. The European industrial sector stands to benefit from more efficient production plants.

Related information

Keywords

Robots, inspection and maintenance, capital investment, industrial plants, robotic sensing
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