Category Archives: Robotics

The Future of Robotics In The Petroleum & Petrochemical Industries

YANGEBUP, Perth, Western Australia, 23-Nov-2020 — /EPR INDUSTRIAL NEWS/ — The petroleum and petrochemical industries, although booming, face numerous challenges. These are only set to intensify as obtaining crude oil and petrochemicals by conventional and non-conventional means becomes more demanding financially, environmentally and in ever more hostile habitats. For these reasons the use of robotics and autonomous systems to carry out practical tasks is virtually a necessity for the industry to progress.

The time of the robot is well and truly upon us, and strategic use of such technology is set to bring about significant safety advances and cost efficiency for global industry. And this is particularly true when it comes to the production of petroleum and petrochemicals.

Because of the colossal value of these industries, with assets totalling billions of dollars, it’s understandable that those held responsible for ensuring continued profits are decidedly cautious when it comes to embracing new technology.

This means that the use of robots for inspection and maintenance is by no means the norm quite yet. But as more and more proof of the advantages becomes common knowledge, such solutions are becoming more widespread.

Inspection and maintenance challenges 

Historically, achieving efficient inspection and maintenance of assets is a necessary but expensive task that needs to be carried out on a regular basis. Challenges posed include:

  • Significant downtime of assets causing reduced revenue
  • High costs associated with the opening, inspection, cleaning and maintenance of assets
  • Lengthy preparation periods to set up scaffolding and vent toxic gases to create a safe environment for human entry
  • The risk to human life when entering confined spaces and non or reduced oxygen atmospheres
  • The high cost of specialist inspection and maintenance teams
  • Worker compensation following accidents or incidents
  • The risk of human error during inspection
  • Inadequate visualisation of certain structures that are inaccessible for humans

Such challenges have meant that inspections and necessary maintenance can take weeks – even months – to complete. While this is taking place revenue ceases, so the need for speed is paramount. In addition, such challenges create little enthusiasm for companies to carry out proactive inspection over and above what’s required by legal industry standards. 

Enter the robots

Rapidly advancing technology over the past decade has brought us to an era that’s truly able to overcome many of these challenges. And whilst we’re not quite in the realms of the most futuristic of sci-fi movies yet, the tech continues to advance. Today, robots such as crawlers and drones are able to reduce multiple challenges of inspection and maintenance, providing the opportunity for companies to not only meet health and safety requirements, but to exceed them, therefore reaping the benefits of proactive asset analysis and associated reduction in maintenance costs

Advantages of using robotics

As technology increases it becomes possible for companies to take advantage of robots to carry out tasks that present significant hazards to human life. Not only does this lower exposure to danger in this high-risk industry, but also provides a financial edge thanks to minimizing employee costs and improving manufacturing efficiency.

The latest in robotic developments have been dedicated towards ensuring they can be employed in real world situations, not simply in a laboratory. Over recent years the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been pivotal in pushing such technology forwards, organising various tests and challenges for robotic manufacturers to overcome. These include the ability to handle tools, open doors, overcome unexpected obstacles, open valves and more.

Manufacturers have also had to ensure that such automaton tools are able to withstand explosive blasts. 

Recent advancements

The speed of technological advancement is expanding fast. Perhaps the most significant progression is that of increasing autonomy. Once only able to perform the basics, the capacity for robots to carry out more complex tasks is now either in existence or poised on the cusp of becoming reality. These include:

  • The ability to navigate autonomously
  • Identifying and solving problems
  • Learning from their experiences and those of others
  • Sharing a workspace with humans and interacting with them. 

Current and future opportunities

The four major industry processes of exploration, development, production and site abandonment are all ripe for increased usage of robotic technology to reduce costs, improve efficiency and increase safety.

Throughout all these stages there are many opportunities for robot use, especially in that of inspection and maintenance. Current and potential applications as the industry and technology moves forward include:

  • Using robots to enter confined spaces to carry out tasks. Not only does this dramatically decrease human risk, but negates the need for unnecessary downtime to prepare for human entry. Currently such health and safety procedures account for up to 80% of asset downtime, therefore the adoption of a robotic element within the workforce provides cost reduction on a significant scale.
  • The use of robots for other potentially hazardous tasks: These include working at height, working within low or non-oxygen environments, firefighting and working in non-temperate conditions.
  • As a replacement for humans in remote locations: Robots that can carry out more complex operations will reduce the need for human operators in locations such as offshore sites.
  • Reducing safety preparations in hazardous work locations: For example, a robot working at height or in a difficult to reach location will not require health and safety measures such as scaffolding and other preparations, therefore reducing costs, downtime and risk.

Furthermore, the reduced cost and time effect of using advanced robots allows for the adoption of much improved inspection and maintenance programs. Proactively carrying out such tasks leads to a considerably reduced chance of any unplanned maintenance issues and/or the occurrence of catastrophic events.

In short, the use of robots in the future will lead to a significant reduction in downtime of industry assets, lowered costs, increased human safety and the ability to work in ever more hostile, hard to reach environments.

In a global marketplace that’s predicted to reach over $7 trillion US dollars* (Oil & Gas) by 2024 and $958.8 billion** (Petrochemical) by 2025, companies, although sensibly judicious in their eagerness to take advantage of such technology, are fast-becoming aware of the competitive edge it can bring.

* https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/07/12/1536385/0/en/Oil-Refining-Market-worth-over-7-trillion-by-2024-Global-Market-Insights-Inc.html

** https://www.grandviewresearch.com/press-release/global-petrochemical-market

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The Upside of COVID? Closing Australia’s Skills Gap

The fate of Australia’s diminishing manufacturing industry has long been hanging in the balance – and then?

BIBRA LAKE, Perth, Western Australia , 23-Nov-2020 — /EPR INDUSTRIAL NEWS/ — Along came COVID-19. For a sector that had been neglected for decades, while the pandemic wasn’t quite the final nail in the coffin, it certainly brought with it the shock wave that made our government sit up and take notice.

And maybe – just maybe – the situation might bring the stars into alignment that will help close the country’s chasm of a skills gap.

Manufacturing is Crucial for Our Economic Recovery

Change is always hard to come by, especially at the extent manufacturing needs. But there are some green roots showing. Thanks to the new government taskforce set up in response to an industry-led recommendation plan, the desperately needed funding for investment and growth is beginning to trickle through.

So what does this mean for the industry, and in particular the small and medium-sized businesses that make up the majority of the sector?

To fully comprehend this we need to drive deep into the rot that’s now endemic throughout. Only by understanding the mistakes that’ve been made and why we have such a major skills crisis, can we begin to turn this unfortunate turn of events around.

By far the most effective way of doing this is to lay bare the biggest error of all, and it all boils down to this: we’ve forgotten the value of local business and manufacturing capabilities. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when this occurred, but if COVID has brought about anything, it’s that we’ve had a hard, sharp lesson as to the importance of local support and expertise. Suddenly the crucial need for home-grown supply chain capabilities has become vital for our businesses and industries, and this can only be brought back up to scratch with a long-term strategy and, most importantly, the necessary funding.

Manufacturing Provides the Building Blocks from which All Other Industries can Grow

The world desperately scrabbled for commodities (ventilators, PPE, toilet roll!) and we were among them. Once upon a time our powerhouse nation boasted some of the best skilled workers on the planet. Today we are but a shadow of our former selves.

So has COVID achieved what many industry experts have failed to do over the previous few decades, and forced the hand of our government to invest in the sector? Perhaps so… What has definitely happened is the following:

  • We’re beginning to understand the many benefits of local support and expertise
  • We’ve realised that the value of local business and manufacturing capabilities is more about quality and service, and less about price
  • The importance of great B2B relationships is something our economy relies on

These are the reasons that, at last, the funding is starting to be put into place for SMEs to be able to upskill their workers and invest in advanced manufacturing processes. It’s only through initiatives such as these that we can become competitive on a global scale. In addition, it gives these companies the opportunity to innovate and commercialise new technologies.

So… Is 2020 the year that manufacturing turns the corner and provides the bedrock necessary for our country to begin to close the skills gap? Only time will tell for sure. But what it has meant is that companies such as SixDe have begun the slow uphill climb – and long may it continue.

An example of this is SixDe’s expansion in preparation of the commercialisation of Magneto, a robotic platform that is the future of inspection robotics. The industry relies on such innovation. With such projects and advancement, we not only get the chance to retrain our current workers, but we lay the foundations that will attract the brightest young minds from around the world to come and live, study and work in our wonderful country. So perhaps, just perhaps, we can drag some positivity from the awful situation that is COVID, and use it to bring about a greater good for Australia.

To find out more about Magneto and the home-produced precision machine components from SixDe, visit www.sixde.com.au or call 08 9434 1112.

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Automotive Paint Robots Market: Collaborative Robots to Steer Future Trajectory of Automotive Industry

DUBLIN 2, Ireland, 08-Nov-2018 — /EPR INDUSTRIAL NEWS — Robotics in the automotive industry has been acclaimed as the impetus behind driving optimization and rethinking of production and process through innovative measures. Prospect of artificial intelligence is promising, with the ability to eliminate various inefficiencies in the automotive manufacturing, ranging from design and planning to maintenance and sales.

Robots have become increasingly palpable in supporting repetitive operations of car manufacturers, with the consensus that the robotics process automation (RPA) has translated into a proven technology, providing tangible benefits to automakers who deploy it. As in case of most technologies, with time, expenses linked with implementation and maintenance of RPA have diminished sharply – gaining significance as a manufacturing efficacy and capability enhancing option among small and large businesses alike.

A sample of the report is available upon request https://www.factmr.com/report/2232/automotive-paint-robots-market

Automotive paint robots are already a standard practice in the industry, wherein robotic arms spray bodywork – depriving the need for proficient manual painters and providing a more even, faster, and smoother finish. Automotive paint robot sales worldwide are foreseen to bring in revenues nearly US$ 700 Mn in 2018, recording a Y-o-Y growth of approximately 8%. Automotive paint robots have evolved over the years to become faster, lighter, and integrated with several activators and sensors.

Collaborative Robots to Steer Future Trajectory of Automotive Industry

Automotive industry continues to remain one of the largest and quickest adopters of the industrial robotics technology. Carmakers have huge plans for next-generation development of their factories, with smarter designs, collaborative robots and artificial intelligence emerging as secret ingredients to the flexible manufacturing – humans. For example – GM’s plant in Shanghai will soon produce electric vehicles with the aid of machines that work quietly in self-directed harmony.

Collaborative robots, or “cobots,” unrestrained by steel cages are being programmed in GM’s plant for working abreast humans on production lines – one unusual operation being handling installation of gears in transmissions. Automakers worldwide are embracing industry 4.0 and the concord alludes lesser intervention of humans. Focus is currently on improving efficiency and flexibility between humans and machines, while automakers concentrate on development of multiple models that are powered by electric motors or gas engines or both.

Approaches toward using collaborative robots and relevant digital tools will determine future layout and size of automotive manufacturing facilities. Ford Motor Co.’s future vision for electric vehicle production alludes the requirement for lower investment, fewer workers, and relatively compact floor area. The company has installed few collaborative robots in its recently renovated truck plant at Louisville, Kentucky. Digital tools such as augmented reality and predictive analytics for mapping new assembly lines and scheduling maintenance & repairs prior to machine breakdowns are also being deployed by this leading automaker.

Reluctance to Enormous Infrastructure Investment and Scarce Skillset Undermine Permeation

Most artificial intelligence systems and robotics are witnessing slow rate of adoption among leading players. For instance, Ford Motor Co has been reluctant to investing more on dedicated electric vehicle manufacturing unless there is consistent and sufficient demand for justifying the expense. Even Tesla, which long acclaimed implementation of robots to translate into an “alien dreadnought,” recently concluded at the fact that human intervention is underrated and excessive automation could involve more technical glitches.

Request methodology of the report at https://www.factmr.com/connectus/sample?flag=RM&rep_id=2232

Automotive companies are partly cautious in huge infrastructural investment, sensing future production orders might fall in line with new vehicle sales in the next economic downturn. Manufacturers currently favor lower debt loads to rid huge loan payments in case of stagnant revenue generation in the down market.

Scarce skillset is a key challenge being addressed by the automotive industry when it comes to RPA-driven plants. This can be attributed partly to Millennials’ distaste for manufacturing work as robots steadily replace humans against the backdrop of pressures on automakers to reduce the overall vehicle cost.

The report is available for direct purchase at https://www.factmr.com/checkout/2232/S

SOURCE: EuropaWire

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Use Precision Laser Alignment

Perth, WA, Australia, 2018-Sep-18 — /EPR Network/ — A laser alignment system eliminates all the guesswork and unknowns associated with traditional measurement systems like dial gauges, straight edge methods and co-ordinate measurement machines (CMMs).

But their advantages stretch way beyond just the quality of the results that they deliver. Here are 10 of the top reasons why your operation should switch to precision laser alignment.

  1. PINPOINT ACCURACY. Unlike other systems, a laser tool can measure down to 0.001mm, even over long distances. The laser beam is always 100% straight and what’s more, laser systems automatically calculate for shims and adjustments values, so the results are always accurate. Unlike older technologies where accuracy may also be compromised because of reading errors, sticky dial hands and low resolutions, laser tools have extremely high resolutions for pinpoint accuracy.
  2. QUICK AND EASY SET UP AND FASTER RESULTS. The equipment is lightweight and easy to learn as well as use which means much shorter set-up times, preparation and measurements. It can also measure three axis directions in a fraction of a second, which results in further time-savings.
  3. MORE RELIABLE. Because lasers eliminate the possibility of human error and inconsistency, they’re more reliable and precise than any other method. Repeatability is another significant benefit and regardless of who is using the equipment and taking the measurements, the laser equipment will always deliver the same consistent results.
  4. ELIMINATES HARDWARE SAG. When a dial gauge is used, there is always a risk of some of the fixtures sagging which can compromise the accuracy of the displayed value. With a laser tool however, there is nothing to worry about with regards to fixtures dropping or sagging.
  5. SAVE BOTH MONEY AND TIME
    Faster set-up and operation coupled with the absolute precision of the results mean a laser tool can easily pay for itself in a matter of months.
  6. SOFT FOOT – HARD RESULTS. Machine frame distortion and soft foot issues can be problematic but unlike a dial gauge which only tells half the story, a laser alignment tool provides a true representation of what’s going at the feet of the rotating machinery as well as what’s happening with the movement between the axes of the shafts being aligned.
  7. VERSATILE. A quality laser alignment system does more than just measure alignment. These versatile tools enable optimum equipment set-up and operation, measuring base flatness, twist, squareness, bearing condition, spindle direction and straightness amongst others.
  8. ABILITY TO MEASURE WITH A SMALL SHAFT ROTATION. Measuring with a traditional dial gauge can require a rotation anywhere between 1800 and 3600. However, a laser alignment tool can take a complete measurement with a much smaller shaft rotation, sometimes as little as 400 which is advantageous especially when machine parts prohibit a full rotation.
  9. ENHANCED DATA MANAGEMENT. Advanced software solutions bring data management to a new level. PDF reports can be generated directly from the instrument, results can be examined in real time and the information can be integrated with an existing software system for record-keeping and reference purposes.
  10. REDUCED ENERGY CONSUMPTION. Half of all machine failures are caused by alignment errors, so it is critical that errors are identified and removed as early as possible – or better still, are prevented from happening in the first place. When machinery is well-aligned and running smoothly, it will consume less energy than a poorly-aligned one which is another compelling reason for choosing fast, accurate and reliable laser alignment technology.

Given that laser alignment tools are simple to learn, easy to use, highly accurate and deliver a wide range of benefits, there’s no need to continue using complicated dial gauges and other older technologies which may be compromising the efficiency of your rotating machinery as well as compromising your bottom-line.

Nexxis has worked with many customers across a diverse range of industries to develop customised solutions for their particular alignment requirements. Deciding to go for laser technology is a major step towards more efficient, cost-effective and productive machinery, but it’s critical that the tool – or combination of tools and accessories – that you choose are right for your unique needs in terms of cost, functionality and relevance to the application.
For expert, practical advice on a tailored solution, please contact Nexxis at nexxis.com.au to see their extensive range of quality technical equipment including world-class laser alignment products from Easy Laser and Rotalign.

Via EPR Network
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Improve Your Palletising To Save Money And Increase Business Efficiencies

Willetton WA, Australia, Apr-20-2017 — /EPR INDUSTRIAL NEWS/ — AccuPak are Australia’s leading supplier of packing, filling, bagging and palletising machinery and equipment, and they have the answers on how you can increase your productivity, reduce your personnel requirements and minimise the risk of injury. Accupak helps business owners save money and improve efficiencies with automated palletising systems. The advantages of automatic palletising are numerous, as detailed below.

Any industrial and warehousing operation that is still relying on manual palletising is likely to be compromising their productivity, quality and business efficiencies.

Manual palletising is no match for modern automated equipment in terms of speed, precision, productivity, safety, quality and outputs and in today’s highly competitive environment, businesses need to take every opportunity to improve.

Palletising is the final step in an assembly line whereby the products (such as boxes, bags, cases, cartons, bottles, sacks etc) are loaded onto pallets. Semi-automatic and automatic palletising systems have undergone major changes in recent years, with advances in robotics technology driving significant improvements in terms of pallet pattern flexibility, tooling flexibility, cycle times as well as the presentation of the stacked pallets.

In basic terms, a robotic palletiser utilises various end-of-arm-tools which alleviate the need for manual stacking of bags, cartons or drums onto a pallet, thereby increasing productivity and profitability while allowing greater flexibility and versatility.

Although automated palletising equipment requires a capital outlay, many businesses are surprised at just how quickly they get a return on their investment. It doesn’t take long before the companies’ bottom-lines reflect the improvements in productivity and efficiencies that are made possible by the new equipment – and customer satisfaction levels are also a lot higher.

Let’s take a closer look at how palletising equipment will benefit a business:

Speed of operation. Humans can’t compete with automated or even semi-automated palletising equipment when it comes to speed. The equipment works faster than any person possibly can, plus it can operate continuously.

Quality control. Because human error is eliminated, a robotic palletiser ensures that quality standards are consistent and deliveries/outputs are always correctly counted and packed. The overall consistency of the loading and unloading processes improves, thereby reducing costly stoppages required to fix errors and inconsistencies as well as reducing the likelihood (and therefore, the cost) of returns or damaged goods.

Reduce labour costs. Eliminating the human element or substantially reducing the level of human intervention leads to substantially lower labour costs and greater efficiencies. The likelihood of error and contamination from human handling is minimised plus there are the obvious productivity and profitability benefits as a result of lower labour costs. Another reason why automated palletisers can improve business efficiencies is that personnel who are no longer required on the manual packing line can be redeployed to other areas within the organisation and used to greater effect.

Greater flexibility. Versatile palletising equipment makes it easy to reconfigure systems to handle different shapes, case sizes, pallet stacking patterns, layers of product and weights as well as handle multiple production lines. This means faster turnaround times and productivity improvements.

Improved working conditions. An automated palletising system reduces the need for workers to do heavy lifting and repetitive work, and minimises the likelihood of OH&S issues. This means a safer working environment with reduced likelihood of workplace injuries and costly workers compensation claims.

Improved data handling and reporting. Computerized controls and a seamless interface with other business software systems allow improved data gathering, real-time reporting and analysis as well as reducing invoicing errors and enabling a more streamlined and secure information chain.

More efficient use of floorspace. A robotic palletiser generally occupies less space than a manual operation which means businesses can use their square meterage more cost-effectively. In some instances, operations are even able to reduce the size of their factory or warehouse, which results in substantial cost savings.

Find out more by calling the AccuPak professionals on 1300 793 476 or visit www.accupak.com.au to learn more about their extensive range of palletising equipment and solutions.

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EPR Industrial News is a new blog, part of EPR Network, that is going to be focused on and will be covering the industrial news and stories from press releases published on EPR Network.

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