Meet the Robots Getting Lots of Love in Digital Industries
November 06, 2017
GE Reports Canada
Looking for a robot to love? One with the kind of leading-edge capabilities that can help you accelerate your digital industrial transformation? Well, finding your love bot has never been easier. We’ve pulled together profiles of some of the best and brightest ones around. They’re machines you’ll be proud to take to work – wherever that may be.
GE Inspection Robotics’ BIKE Platform
The Compact, Ultra-Mobile Inspection Robot
About Me: I’m an upwardly mobile, smooth operator who’s not afraid to get a little dirty. In fact, I’m happiest when I’m doing hi-res visual inspections of power plants, oil rigs, pipelines, ship hulls, factories, bridges and more.
People tell me that I’m revolutionizing the way remote-location inspections are performed, probably because I’ll go anywhere humans can’t. Size constraints, extreme temperatures, immersion in liquids or safety concerns: I can take anything you throw at me. Once I’ve been deployed – I can maneuver into spaces as small as 12 inches wide – I excel at a whole bunch of tasks, including surface inspection and taking precise 3D measurements.
Mounted with a state-of-the-art optical device like GE’s Mentor Visual iQ Video Borescope, I can assess pitting, scaling or cracks on any ferromagnetic steel structure. Inspections are faster, and because operators have direct visual access to every single nozzle, joint, weld and elbow connection, the probability of detection goes way up. And say goodbye to blurred or shaky images: with the probe securely mounted to my rugged exterior, image capture is always crystal clear.
Need to do a little corrosion mapping? I’m totally up for that. Simply swap out (yep, I’m fully modular) the borescope for an Ultrasonic Probe, a precision sensor that sends and receives sound waves, and I’m good to go for structural integrity tests of pipelines, storage tanks and more using highly accurate thickness measurements.
What am I looking for in a partner? That’s easy. I’m all about working alongside people who are after a reliable, cost-effective team player, one that’s built to make the workday easier.
My Best Assets: I’m light – less than 10 kilos – compact and nimble, so I never have a problem with confined spaces. I’m also controlled remotely using an industrial joystick and a ruggedized, fully integrated control station, so operators stay safe while I get dirty.
My Motto: No Limits.
We Were Meant for Each Other If: You’re into brains and brawn – and you like hanging around in hard-to-reach places.
You’ll Fall for Franchesca’s State-of-the-Art Digital Twin Capabilities
About Me: What’s your idea of the perfect evening? Mine would be a couple of hours spent roaming around a remote wellsite in Alberta’s oilsands after quitting time, using my array of sensors to digitize everything in sight. Once I’ve collected all that data, I upload it to VEERUM’s Digital Twin solution so the project team can view a precise virtual replica of every single site component.
(Full disclosure: while an oil-and-gas-industry gig will always be my first love, I’m also perfectly happy sizing up any major infrastructure development, including hydroelectric and renewables projects.)
Okay, so maybe that’s not everyone’s idea of a great night out, but it’s time well-spent, and here’s why: A Digital Twin can eliminate rework, the expensive, hazardous and time-wasting process of redoing tasks that were carried out incorrectly the first time. Rework is typically caused by mismatches between the physical site and manufactured components, missing tools and misplaced assets. Avoiding it could save you 10 to 30 per cent on capital projects.
My site adventures and data uploads to the Digital Twin help project teams using the Digital Twin to predict and resolve issues in the virtual world before they impact cost and schedule in reality.
Are we a match made in tech heaven? Absolutely – if your company could use an eagle-eyed assist on every build site. I’d love nothing more than to tackle all those minute measurements so your people can work safely and in projects that stay on schedule and in budget.
My Best Assets: I’m self-sufficient. I live alone in an environmentally controlled onsite trailer where I can charge up and do data transfers securely. I can also help you save money on remote sites, where repeat visits by survey teams can be unsafe and expensive.
My Words to Live By: Right First Time.
We’re Perfect for Each Other If: You’re a night owl.
Favourite Song: Someone to Watch Over Me.
Meet the GE Mini Robot That Will Soon Be Turning Heads – and Tackling the Toughest Repair Assignments
About Me: I may be small but I’m not afraid to take on some of industry’s biggest problems. Need to repair a 150-ton steam turbine or jet engine but don’t want to deal with a lot of downtime? I’m your bot. I’m being purpose-built by the engineers at GE Global Research’s headquarters in Niskayuna, NY to head into the deep, dark recesses of an engine, inspect it and then carry out any necessary repairs.
The adrenaline rush I get from maneuvering between spinning turbine blades doesn’t distract me from my job: enabling more frequent monitoring of an engine’s wear and tear, and making sure operators stay up and running.
To do that, I come in a couple of different models. The first is about the size of a small envelope and designed to roll onto a plastic track that can be moved between the blades. This robot’s drive mechanism propels it to the inspection site, where it locks itself into position so it can work – even while the blades are turning.
The other model is a gravity-defying “crawler” equipped with a high-powered magnet and a camera that gives operators an up-close-and-personal view of the engine’s inner workings. It’s controlled via wireless signals from the operator’s computer or smartphone.
While I’m a relative newcomer to the inspection-robotics scene, I still have a lot to offer, like a more comprehensive view of an engine than a typical borescope provides. All those tightly packed turbine parts are almost impossible for a borescope to maneuver around. And as soon as the turbine starts up? Goodbye, borescope. I’m nimble enough to check everything out, take pictures and send them wirelessly to technicians. Once the images have been analyzed, I can head back in to do the repair.
I’m also big into sensor technology. I’ll be outfitted with the latest devices so I can collect data that will be used to make continual updates the turbine’s Digital Twin. Spotting problems before they get serious has never been easier.
Could we be two halves of the same productive whole? Let’s get together and find out. I’d be into partnering up with your teams to make it easier for everyone to get things done.
My Best Asset: People tell me I light up a room. I like to think that’s because of my personality but it’s probably just my high-intensity LEDs – they’re great for pinpointing problems on the turbine blades.
My Mantra: Good Things Come in Small Packages.
Favourite Song: Cool the Engines by Boston.
We’re a Good Match If: You’re looking for a robot with tons of potential.
The Up-For-Anything “Snake Arm” Robot You’ll Want to Have Around
About Me: Yes, I’m a “snake arm” robot – I have a serpentine shape and multiple flexible joints – but I’m anything but cold-blooded. In fact, there’s a lot to love about me. Inspect, clean, cut, dismantle: I can do all that – and more. I’ve been deployed in underground tunnels, nuclear facilities and power plants. I’m even starting to show up in operating rooms where doctors are using me to make surgery faster, safer and more precise.
Thanks to my shape, I’m your go-to robot for working in areas that are hard to reach – or downright dangerous. Case in point: technicians in the U.K. recently wanted to disassemble parts of a nuclear fuel processing plant, a job way too expensive, risky and time-consuming for humans. Who was up to the task? A snake arm robot equipped with a 5 kW laser, of course. This prize-winning “LaserSnake” cut a five-ton stainless steel tank into 18-kilogram pieces in just four short weeks.
But I like working in the aviation industry best, where my dexterity makes me a natural for jet engine maintenance. Allowing technicians to do their work with the engine still on the wing saves time and money, so inspections are increasingly on my to-do list.
Don’t want to get too close? It’s okay, I get it. Neither do my operators. They control me remotely, which keeps them at a safe distance, no matter what the job entails. Believe it or not, I’m a big people person. I’d love to work “hand-in-hand” with your techs and take a bite out of your toughest projects.
My Goals: Expanding my repertoire of applications – like to the aerospace, oil and gas and construction sectors – and helping out where I’m needed most. Snake-arm robots are being tested to see if they can assist with search and rescue efforts after natural disasters
Words I Live By: Roll with It.
Favourite Books: Paradise Lost by John Milton and The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket.
We’ll Get Along Really Well If: You’re looking for someone who’s super flexible.