Machinery : Industrial Robot : Machine Health
Our world demands critical infrastructure be reliable. Inspection and maintenance are mainstays in achieving this outcome. As the leader in robot-enabled ultrasonics, Gecko Robotics delivers comprehensive inspections giving an unprecedented understanding of asset health. Skilled NDT inspectors wielding best-in-class equipment and supported by cloud-based processing is The Gecko Advantage.
Siemens, Gecko Robotics Develop Ultrasonic Maintenance Robots
Siemens has announced a three-year collaboration with Gecko Robotics to develop and roll out ultrasonic robotic inspection services across Europe. The partners say the inspections will be a game-changer for the future of infrastructure inspections and maintenance across a range of industries such as power generation and the oil and gas sector. Under the collaboration, Gecko Robotics will provide its remote-controlled robots fitted with ultrasonic transducers, localization sensors, lasers and H cameras. The spider-like robots adhere to the surface of different equipment types, moving horizontally or vertically across the equipment while scanning it for any signs of wear and tear, with managers able to monitor corrosion trends over time and predict necessary maintenance.
Dual Linear Phased Array Corrosion Mapping
Asset health is paramount to the efficient and safe operation of facilities producing energy and manufactured goods. Ultrasonic corrosion mapping is a non-destructive testing (NDT) technique that uses data from ultrasonic measurements to map material thickness across a piece of equipment, such as tanks, pipes, and pressure vessels. The data is used to graph corrosion on the equipment for easy visual interpretation. Currently, there are a number of tools available to complete corrosion mapping inspections. However, one automated dual linear phased array technique offers increased productivity, accuracy, and data density over other methods.
$73 M Series C Funding Will Bring Infrastructure Into the 21st Century
Gecko Robotics, a leader in robotics and industrial asset management software, today announced their Series C funding round of $73 million, led by XN with participation from Founders Fund, XYZ, Drive Capital, Snowpoint Ventures, Joe Lonsdale, Mark Cuban, Gokul Rajaram, and others. This latest funding round accelerates Gecko’s stated mission, “To protect today’s critical infrastructure, and give form to tomorrow’s.”
Co-founded by Jake Loosararian (CEO) and Troy Demmer (Chief Product Officer), Gecko focuses on essential industries such as power generation, oil and gas, heavy manufacturing, and defense. Gecko’s robots capture data at previously unheard-of scale and fidelity, climbing pipelines, boilers, tanks, ship hulls, and much more in search of damage, no matter how subtle. Gecko’s software, in turn, enables human experts to contextualize that data and translate it into action.
Detecting Corrosion and Erosion in Horizontal Boiler Tube Assemblies
Boilers play an essential role in improving the efficiency of thermal power generation. Three boiler sections, economizer, superheater, and reheater, are tightly bundled tube assemblies inherent to the process by maintaining high temperature feedwater and steam that drives the steam turbine and generator. Tube assemblies can be vertical or horizontal, but the focus of this article are assemblies in the horizontal configuration. Because of the curved design, depth of tubing, location, and contents they are subject to a variety of corrosion and erosion mechanisms that can result in failure and unplanned outages.
The susceptibility for failure in a tube assembly is further exacerbated by inadequate inspection methods for detecting or predicting corrosion and erosion damage. However, specialized robot-based NDT techniques, such as Rapid Ultrasonic Gridding (RUG), offer unparalleled coverage and data compared to traditional methods, giving owner/operators the confidence that their equipment can operate optimally.
An Automated Approach to Detecting Corrosion Under Insulation
Corrosion under insulation (CUI) is corrosion that occurs in the base metal of piping, storage tanks, pressure vessels, and other assets when moisture penetrates the outer insulation. Corrosion and damage to the insulation are difficult to detect without the costly process of removing portions of it and performing an inspection. Standard techniques help identify damage in isolated areas but are resource intensive if prioritizing the overall condition of the asset.
Alternatively, robotics-based NDT techniques, such as Rapid Ultrasonic Gridding (RUG), reveal CUI through an internal inspection without the need for scaffolding or removing insulation. This technique utilizes ultrasonic testing to measure the thickness of the insulated metal. When paired with data visualization tools, the readings are used to generate 2D or 3D corrosion heat maps of the entire asset.
Robotic Inspection for Aboveground Storage Tanks
Aboveground Storage Tanks (AST) are vital assets for many industries including, power, paper and pulp, oil and gas, chemical, and even beverage production. Routine inspection of external and internal tank components is beneficial for understanding its condition and is required by federal and local laws and regulations. Robot-enabled ultrasonic testing (UT) offers a unique solution to AST inspections because they save plant operators valuable resources while providing more asset coverage and actionable data.
How to Integrate Robotic Inspections into Your Workflow
Data is the hallmark of a robotic inspection, providing up to 1,000 times more information than traditional methods. When deciding between drones and robot crawlers, data type and quality should be considered. Drones provide aerial footage and pictures, and can even provide B-scans of assets. But, as previously mentioned, this method doesn’t result in the level of quantitative data that robot crawlers can supply. Additionally, some robots are equipped with cameras to provide the best of both worlds.
The Cost of Unplanned Downtime for Refineries
According to the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AlChE), the cost of missed production for a U.S. refinery with an average-sized fluid catalytic cracking unit of 80,000 barrels per day will range from $340,000 a day at profit margins of $5 per barrel, to $1.7 million a day at profit margins of $25 per barrel, based on a conservative estimate. A single, unplanned shutdown that lasts hours can lead to the release of a year’s worth of emissions into the atmosphere, according to John Hague, Aspen Technology Inc.
One type of innovative inspection process is Rapid Ultrasonic Gridding (aka RUG), which creates data-rich visual grid maps that identify areas of corrosion and other damage mechanisms. It is 10 times faster than traditional gridding and competing methods. In most situations, the operator can quickly make the decision of whether to proceed with maintenance measures to resolve the issue, or to return the inspected asset to operation.
Learn how Gecko Robotics partnered with Fictiv to manufacture tight tolerance custom robotics parts and accelerate development schedules.
After partnering with Fictiv, Gecko Robotics has seen countless changes in how they order and receive parts. With previous vendors, just getting a quote to begin was difficult.
“We’d send in for a quote, and we’d be waiting up to a week to get something back,” said Bryner. “Fictiv’s platform is able to quote almost instantaneously, which allows us to make quicker decisions. Their feedback even helps us evaluate whether or not we need to make a quick change to our design in order to help our robots come to life faster and more effectively.”
The partnership between Fictiv and Gecko Robotics has extended beyond just prototype designs as well. Once Bryner and his team decide that a part design will work on more than one of their robotic platforms, they start to scale to production through the Fictiv platform without worry.