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Reducing Spray Dryer Inspection & Repair to <24 Hours: A Case Study

Maintenance of spray dryers utilizing a robotic solution

A typical inspection and repair of a spray dryer system takes many days. Confined access entry tends to come with the territory, as well as the erection of scaffolding and/or rope entry to the asset.

With today’s technology, surely there’s a better solution? It appears that this is the case, as is described in the following real-life example carried out by Invert Robotics.

The Asset

Europe’s largest and most advanced dairy processing plant approached Invert Robotics to see if they could reduce the typical 9-day inspection and repair cycle that they had endured for many years regarding each spray dryer. Naturally, this innovative robotic company was keen to take up the challenge.

The Challenges

The typical scenario that surrounded the spray dryer inspection took the following path:

  • The erection of scaffolding to allow inspectors to enter the asset
  • Confined space entry by the inspector/s with handheld NDT equipment to analyse the interior and define areas for repair
  • Confined space entry by the repair crew to carry out the necessary works
  • Dismantling of the scaffolding once the work has been carried out

The risks and results of such an inspection include:

  • A full 9 days to complete the task
  • Multiple people need to enter the asset with the associated risks of rope entry
  • The risk of human error when it comes to locating areas that require repair or maintenance
  • Small defects might be missed
  • The risk of scaffolding damaging the asset
  • Extended downtime and associated loss of revenue

The Solution

After a detailed inspection of the task, Invert Robotics determined that their V-series crawler robot was perfectly suited for the job. The remote robot, with its integral 30x optical camera, could traverse the interior of the spray dryer to find and localise even the smallest of defects. Unlike a human inspector, a crawler has no risk of missing an area that requires attention.

This remote inspection tool negates the need for extensive scaffolding and multiple person entry. Instead, only a repair crew is required to enter the asset, working on the detailed data provided via the crawler. Thanks to its accuracy and speed, the welding team need only spend minimal time within the vessel.

The advantages of this process over the unwieldy historical inspection process are massive.

  • Minimal people need to enter the asset, so dramatically increasing safety
  • Removing the risk of human error during the inspection process
  • No need to erect scaffolding and the associated risks to the integrity of the asset
  • Drastically reducing downtime. In this case, an inspection and repair cycle that usually took 9 days was reduced to less than a single day

The cost implications alone are eye-watering – and that’s before you consider the reduced risk to human safety and the associated insurance costs. This example was the third year running that the processing plant had entrusted their spray dryer inspection and repair to Invert Robotics.

Such an example is but one way that technology is proving so advantageous to those who’re ready to embrace it. At Nexxis, we’re keen to introduce such innovative solutions to our customers to provide truly ground-breaking improvements to many inspection challenges.

Find out more about the Invert Robotics V-series crawler robot or contact us to find out more about our range of robots or any of our other inspection products, or request a quote online.

Carry on reading How Robots Are Shaking up NDT Inspections to find out more.

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