Inspenet, November 29, 2023.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) has conducted autonomous inspections at a refinery using the “ASCENT” plant inspector robot, a second generation of the “EX ROVR” robot with explosion-proof features under development in collaboration with ENEOS Corporation .
The inspection tests were carried out at ENEOS’ Oita refinery in Kyushu, as part of both companies’ joint R&D program for fiscal 2023. Executed between June and the end of September, operational tests confirmed the ASCENT’s excellent mobility in various environmental conditions, such as uneven floor levels of the refinery’s oil dam, tight spaces, grass and gravel surfaces, standing water, and operational nocturnal.
Additionally, the test program was able to capture visual images of instrumentation, thermal scans and acoustic mapping information, which would allow it to replace inspections carried out by personnel in a refinery.
MHI also introduced the ASCENT EX ROVR robot at the SPRINT Robotics for Inspection & Maintenance Robotics 2023 World Conference in Houston last October. During the event, the company presented the results of long-term tests carried out in collaboration with ENEOS, as well as ENEOS’ plan to fully integrate the EX ROVR into its assets by 2030.
Since the EX ROVR has the ability to carry out inspections 24 hours a day in potentially explosive environments, is strategically positioned to add value by improving worker safety, increasing labor efficiency and optimizing facility operation rates.
About ASCENT: the plant inspection robot
This robot employs an explosion-proof robotic arm with 6 degrees of freedom, equipped with an integrated lighting and camera system that facilitates the capture of detailed images of plant instrumentation in complex arrangements from various perspectives. In addition to performing gas concentration measurements, acoustic mapping, and thermal scans, the EX ROVR, when combined with the online application provided as a standard feature, allows operators to conduct remote operations, manage inspection programs, and review inspection data. .
It should be noted that in the event of an incident at the plant, remote operations facilitate a rapid assessment of on-site conditions, contributing to greater efficiency in the inspection of the facility and an agile and safe resolution of the incident.
ASCENT has been designed to achieve an optimal human-machine interface, thus facilitating the execution of operations by the operator. This capability has made it possible for the operator to quickly acquire skills in controlling and integrating the robot into the ENEOS refinery. In addition, it allows remote operations, mission planning and inspection tasks to be carried out automatically, even while the plant continues in operation.
In the next steps, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) will continue to collect inspection data through long-term robotic testing. Additionally, the company will continue to develop an application that will use accumulated data to automatically and early detect potential anomalies, with the goal of further improving the value of the EX ROVR product.
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