Upwardly mobile robotics
Regular inspection of industrial tanks is mandatory in most developed countries. Structural tank faults have enormous consequences for food hygiene, human safety, productivity and plant costs. Most industry sectors are affected in some way.
The disconcerting thing about tank faults is that they are developing quietly and out of sight — usually not found until they have turned from small faults into larger ones. Some problems are even discovered by the media instead of by plant managers, with the resultant contamination scares receiving very high and reputation-damaging publicity.
Traditionally, inspections have been carried out visually by inspectors either abseiling or climbing up scaffolding. In addition to working at height, the hazards associated with working in a confined space add to the health and safety issues. This method relies on human vision and attention span and can result in faults being missed.
Invert Robotics sends its proprietary wall-climbing robot around the tank to inspect for faults, removing the need for humans working at a height in a confined space. A video feed of the inspection is supplied to an inspector safely situated outside the tank and can be recorded for future review.
Invert Robotics’ method greatly reduces the health and safety risk associated with tank inspections and reduces the time required for a tank inspection.
Invert Robotics has provided this service to customers in Australasia’s dairy sector, including Fonterra, Groupe Lactalis and Westland Milk Products. To date, Invert has inspected 150 tanks and found 30 cracks – far above the industry average using conventional methods.
In the dairy industry there are an estimated 40,000 tanks globally, with an average capacity of 150 m3, requiring 30,000 internal inspections per annum. Whereas, in the petroleum industry an estimated 93,000 tanks have an average capacity of 5,000 m3 and result in a regulated need for 9,300 internal and 53,000 external inspections every year.
By using additional sensor systems, such as ultrasonics for crack detection or wall thickness measurements, Invert Robotics will expand the capability of its inspection services in these new and lucrative areas.