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How to train a robot for the maintenance and inspection of an industrial plant?

Evonik, a specialty chemical industry company, performs maintenance and inspection work in critical areas of one of its plants using the use of an autonomous robotwithin the framework of an innovation project and in collaboration with three partners.

To control the robot and Teach you automated inspection paths through the plant, Evonik uses Getac’s F110 tablet with ATEX certification. The company chose the F110-EX for its performance and reliability compared to other rugged alternatives. In addition, Getac’s reactivity and great flexibility when integrating the solution were key factors in creating an optimal working environment for the proof of concept. Energy Robotics supplied the robot software and Boston Dynamics the robot itself.

The objective of the project was to evaluate the usefulness of an automated robotic solution for maintenance and inspection in the chemical industry. The main task of the robot is to go through pre-programmed inspection routes while at the same time collect strategic operational data. The robot also performs automated safety inspections that cannot be integrated into a remote maintenance concept (or only at disproportionate costs). Organizations can use the data collected to optimize intervals between inspections and improve asset reliability.

Getac’s tablet plays a key role in the project, serving as the main interface between the robot, control software and the human operator. The operator uses the F110-EX tablet to access the control and monitoring software in the plant, and also has a additional Controller, when rapid interventions are required during specific operations.

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“The F110-EX is used to give commands to the robot, but can also be used to control it during specific tasks, for example in the tank farm,” explains Thorsten Schimpf, process specialist at Evonik. “The robot is equipped with sensors, as well as infrared and optical cameras, which allow it to go to specific places inside the plants, take photos or record data that it can then transmit for evaluation. To ensure efficient operation, we needed a rugged handheld device and powerful enough to view the video images sent by the robot in real time. And the F110-EX gives us all of that.”

Evonik’s requirements for the F110-EX tablet are demanding. Not only did he need a robust and ATEX-certified, but it was also important that it had an easy-to-read screen outdoors, in the rain and in all kinds of weather conditions. The device had to be fully functional even in extreme hot or cold conditions.

Evonik also wanted a device with Windows operating system and the ability to capture and process large amounts of data quickly and efficiently. Connectivity and performance were equally important to ensure fast video streaming and playback. In addition, the device had to have an LTE connection, since the tank farm does not have wireless LAN, as well as Bluetooth to connect the controller to the tablet. As an added bonus, Getac’s carry strap is specially designed so that the F110 can be worn comfortably in front of the body, allowing the user to keep both hands free to operate the controller.

«The Getac team not only provided us with a quality solution tailored to our needs, but also responded to our request with amazing speed”, adds Thorsten Schimpf. «The F110-EX is extremely reliable and secure, works flawlessly and meets all of our very high performance, functionality and connectivity requirements. We are very satisfied with the F110-EX.”

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