Access To Robotics and Applying “Robotics as an Outcome” To Our Strategy
Being a Global BDM, there’s an obvious requirement for travel, and I heard something funny earlier this week, where my dad and I were talking about the different types of plug sockets across Europe, and then the rest of the world.
We discussed standards, and he said, “The good thing about standards, is that there are so many to choose from…”
This got me thinking…
Now in terms of general NDT – this is certainly the case.
But when we look at robotics, it can be a bit of a minefield, sometimes because we don’t always know what standard applies. And sometimes, depending on who you speak to, a standard can be required, or not, regardless of whether it exists or not!
So many standards are written towards human inspection, and human interaction with environments, and we speak so strongly about where robots cannot carry out specific tasks as well as humans, or more often “in the same way as humans”, that we completely forget just how many tasks a robot can complete, in a different way (by design) that delivers more precise, more tangible, repeatable and quantifiable results – allowing us as humans – to make the appropriate decisions.
The challenge we have today as an industry – is that, as much as robotics have been deployed for a number of years, the function of robotics as an everyday assistant (or enabler) for inspectors, is still very much in its infancy.
“Can this be done with a robot?” is often the first question I get asked, which is a good question. But it adds a perceived layer of complexity to any deployment or challenge – implying something needs to be tested or proven ahead of its use in an industrial or “real life” environment.
This highlights how disparate the industry is when it comes to adopting robotic solutions compared to other mechanical or electronic aids. For example – for a rope access inspection of a storage tank where thickness measurements are required – the simple requirement is to understand the health of the given asset – and the decisions will be made by testing its wall thickness and comparing it to an acceptable tolerance. The fact that these results were obtained using a human suspended from a rope is secondary.
Robotics, of course, play a huge role in the future of deployment, inspection, NDT and Maintenance within industry.
And for very obvious reasons – including, but not limited to allowing us to:
- Avoid human entry to confined spaces
- Inspection & Maintenance
- Avoid human presence in dangerous locations
- Remote operators / crawlers for working at height, hot environments or locations or offshore
- Digital memorization and storage of inspection data ready for analysis, reporting & condition monitoring
- Reduced risks of leakages, ruptures, and other unexpected and disruptive events
The biggest barrier I see today is access to robotics (and associated expertise).
If we look at the conventional approach to technology acquisition – limitations mainly include:
- High purchase price
- High operating costs
- Limited modularity (restricting capacity to increase ROI)
- Manufacturer (NDT / Sensor) dependency
As the industry strives to define and deliver specific solutions to specific problems, Nexxis’ approach to “getting robotics into the hands of users” becomes invaluable.
CAPEX purchase, for a system that may only be used for one project, can be a barrier for many inspection service providers, and the cost of inspection from an Asset Owner / Operator restricts this further.
By working with both service providers and asset owners – Nexxis is able to identify the right solution, based on a sensor-agnostic, truly modular approach – because we have access to all technology, and have our own OEM equipment for robotic deployment, a user can be certain that the solution Nexxis provides is the best solution, and not just the best solution we have.
Flexibility in terms of delivering and supporting projects as an operating expense, starts with something as simple as providing a solution (inclusive of working packages, deployment and recovery plans) as a short-term rental, all the way through to partnerships, project consultancy and framework agreements and finally of course technology sale if that is what works best for a particular user or project.
Not every deployment will be a crawler, traveling 1,000m loaded with NDT sensors, SLAM positioning and the latest Depth Cameras for real-time mapping and location of complicated geometry assets – there are all manner of areas where we can consider the best solution to complete a given task.
At the heart of our operation is the supply of an extensive range of leading-edge inspection, testing and measuring equipment for a variety of applications; including onshore and offshore oil rigs, subsea installations, engines, machinery, mining operations, infrastructure projects and manufacturing processes. All these products are available for hire, lease or purchase.
So no matter what industry you’re in, from Energy, Mining, Space, Shipbuilding, Transportation, Construction, Chemicals, and Materials to Military Defence – Nexxis is here to solve your challenges in the present while maximising opportunities for the future.
Read more as Jason De Silveria explains well where robotics as an outcome is so important.