Case study

The EX ROVR allows the automation of plant inspections and improved standards of maintenance

Industry: Power generation, Energy (Oil & Gas / Nuclear), Engineering

ISSUE

Sophisticated patrols and inspections are required to prevent accidents and unplanned outages at plants

Of the 603 high-pressure gas accidents arising in oil and gas facilities around Japan in 2018, 40% were the result of inadequate maintenance. These accidents caused enormous financial losses, and many could have been averted if site abnormalities had been picked up by routine inspections. However, human inspectors are prone to overlooking plant anomalies. Manned patrols also present a safety risk in the event of a gas leak.

HEALTH & SAFETY REPORT 2019

A comprehensive Solution is essential to cover the vast area of required inspections for safe operations

Although the use of fixed cameras and sensors is a useful way to automate plants and reduce manpower requirements, it is technically and economically difficult to cover the entirety of a large plant with fixed cameras and sensors alone. There is a need for a holistic monitoring solution that uses a variety of robots —effectively mobile sensors— to patrol the plant. However, the quest for an explosion-proof robot that is able to autonomously navigate narrow and intricate passageways and stairs has so far been elusive.

Explosion-proof robot that automatically runs down stairs

Field data, such as surveillance and inspection analysis, has not historically been utilized for facility maintenance

patrol inspection

By analyzing the field data collected during autonomous inspections, in combination with process data and routine inspection records, it is possible to detect signs of problems and optimize plant operation. However, in many cases, surveillance and inspection records still take the form of paper checklists that are never converted into digital data, meaning that information obtained is not adequately utilized.

SOLUTION

KEY POINTS TO THE SOLUTION

  • EX ROVR is a highly agile plant inspection robot featuring an explosion-proof design and the ability to automatically patrol plant facilities.
  • EX ROVR allows operators to increase the frequency and density of patrols, thereby preventing accidents and unscheduled shutdowns. Data collected can also be used to aid plant maintenance.
  • By entrusting routine duties to a fleet of robots permanently stationed at the plant, operators can assign personnel to safer tasks with more value.

EX ROVR is a highly agile plant inspection robot featuring an explosion-proof design and the ability to automatically patrol plant facilities

EX ROVR plant inspection robot is a remotely-controlled mobile robot that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries began developing in 2014 for use in flammable gas environments. Fitted with a variety of sensors, including visible spectrum and infrared cameras, gas detectors, and microphones, the EX ROVR is able to automatically obtain image data and information on gas levels.

6 main features of EX ROVR

EX ROVR allows operators to increase the frequency and density of inspections, thereby averting accidents and unscheduled shutdowns. Data collected can also be used to aid plant maintenance

Unplanned shutdowns are extremely costly for plant operators, so more rigorous patrols and inspections can play a role in the early discovery of potential issues. The EX ROVR is able to store image and sensor data to identify abnormalities faster and more accurately, thereby facilitating maintenance and asset management.

Data acquired by EX ROVR

By entrusting routine duties to a fleet of robots permanently stationed at the plant, operators can assign personnel to safer duties with higher added value

Division of roles between robots and humans

By leaving the EX ROVR to patrol the plant, personnel can be assigned to higher-value, safety-related duties. On sea-based platforms, inspection robots also make it possible to reduce operating expenses. By having robots and human staff share roles, it is possible to improve safety and efficiency.

EXPECTED OUTCOME

  • By using the EX ROVR to perform inspections and other tasks formerly performed by human operators, it is possible to boost the efficiency of the overall operation as well as reducing errors to improve accuracy, thereby reducing costs. A higher standard of operation and maintenance is possible.
  • EX ROVR enables operators to perform inspections whenever necessary for as long as necessary, without worrying about workers’ schedules. This enables faults and anomalies caused by age-related deterioration to be discovered earlier, preventing accidents.

Plant patrol explosion-proof robot "EX ROVR"