At SINTEF Applied Cybernetics we have looked at how such an inspection and maintenance task may be automated. One solution is to gain access to the inside of a heat exchanger through small inspection holes in the tank. With this in mind, we developed a demonstrator for a robotic system that may access a heat exchanger through such a small inspection hole, but nevertheless be able to access a large workspace inside the tank. Hence, the robot may inspect each of the narrow pipes inside a heat exchanger. In addition, it should be possible to conduct eddy-current analysis with the help of the robot and pipes that need more attention can be located and dealt with.
The demonstrator is capable of inspecting a long horizontal row of small holes. The robot can cover a 2 m long row even though it only needs a hole of 4 cm in diameter to enter a heat exchanger. Moreover, the robot is able to inspect both pipes that are directly in front of it in addition to holes far out on the sides – even though the robot is placed very close to the row of holes. A small video camera is mounted on the tip of the robot in order to be able to inspect the small holes.
Contact person at SINTEF Applied Cybernetics: Terje Mugaas