The use of robotics in power plants is significantly impacting operations and maintenance in the power industry.
FREMONT, CA: The use of robotics in power plants for operations and maintenance is increasing. The use of robotics in power plants is affecting O&M in the power industry. Realizing what robotics can and cannot do is critical. As technology is innovating rapidly, many utilities are taking advantage of third-party companies specializing in robotics operations. Know more here.
Drones have been a vital part of power plant inspections for several years. In several cases, they can limit or avoid the need to send workers to examine difficult-to-access areas, like boilers, stacks, and towers. Drones can enter piping, go underwater, and survey power transmission lines from different angles while offering better coverage and more effective maintenance. Drones with thermal imaging cameras can find malfunctioning solar cells and panels in solar power plants. There is a reduction in travel and inspection times on dispersed assets, as drones can carry data-capture systems that enable the operator to take data readings in one flight. These data systems include HD video, photographs, infrared images, and UV corona photographs.
Drones are suited for aerial mapping and 3D modeling because they can follow GPS-guided flight paths, enabling the complete mapping of a facility and creating a digital model of a plant. Robotics in power plants can replace employees at the point of application, allowing operators to remotely access hazardous and inaccessible zones cost-effectively. This is especially essential for nuclear power stations to reduce the exposure of workers to radiation.
Robots have been leveraged to internally inspect pipelines for some time and can now be made small enough to monitor pipelines down to six inches in diameter. When the testing units are heavy or bulky for a drone or the areas are inaccessible, robotic surveillance is a suitable option. One growth area for robotics in the sector is boiler tube inspection. Tube wall failures can cause forced outages, but manual inspections are daunting and take several days. Robotic tube inspections can accurately predict and limit wall failures in a fraction of the time. The use of robots to test boiler tube walls results in rapidly identifying trouble spots.
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