We are living in an age of robots. They are building our cars, organising our logistics, even running our hotels and playing an increasingly important role in the energy industry. The result is an industrial robot market that is expected to triple over the next decade.
It’s not just a robotic workforce driving forward this energy innovation; increasingly intelligent technologies provide the foundations for this powerful disruption. Connected, smart technologies operating through the Internet of Things (IoT) offer a framework for robotic communication and improved analytics to build tomorrow’s energy networks.
The future of Malaysia’s own energy infrastructure will increasingly be built around smart grid technology. This innovation will help deliver a more efficient energy network in the face of growing demand. It will ultimately form the own foundation for connected smart opportunities in Malaysia’s energy sector.
At the forefront of this global evolution is a robot workforce changing the way we operate. Here are 5 exciting robotic innovations that show you the robots behind the statistics.
1) Robots take to the skies
In Japan, power provider TEPCO are utilising drones in collaboration with technology partners to create ‘drone highways’. These highways will utilise extensive mapping of TEPCO’s energy grid to provide a safe flight path and charging point for drones. This innovative partnership not only helps provide detailed oversight and enhanced capabilities for TEPCO, but unlocks the opportunity to embrace drone technology throughout the Japanese economy by providing a safe designated flight path.
Drones are also providing a powerful tool to the solar industry, hugely improving the efficiency of solar panel installation by combining their aerial capabilities with detailed scanning and analytics technologies, ensuring high accuracy solar panel surveys. These are just some examples of the power of airborne robotics to deliver a better energy ecosystem.
2) Optimised efficiency with cleaning robots
Solar power is the fastest growing energy source on our planet. This increasingly important renewable technology generates power from direct sunlight. So, what do you do when the sun is blocked? Call in the robots!
They might not be able to do anything about the clouds, but when it comes to dirt and dust, robots have got it covered. Innovative cleaning robots are helping to keep solar panels clean in the most hostile environments, maximising productivity and greatly increasing the efficiency of solar power plants. Not only have case studies shown that these robots can provide up to ten-times the cleaning speed of manual methods, they also utilise 75% less water, helping preserve another of Earth’s natural resources.
3) Robots go nuclear
Robotics can also help offer solutions to some of the energy industry’s most challenging locations, such as the heart of nuclear power plants. Robots developed by Hitachi are helping survey critical nuclear power plant infrastructure across the world to ensure it continues to run efficiently, and safely.
Robots also provide a capability for essential tasks at nuclear power plants that are otherwise too dangerous for humans to undertake. Sellafield Power Plant in the UK has been utilising a fleet of flying drones, remote controlled submarines and industrial robots to survey and undertake nuclear decontamination and decommissioning.
4) Tiny robots provide big operational boost
Robots might offer big solutions, but they’re sometimes delivered in very small packages. Precision robots just 9mm in size, developed by Alstom Inspection Robots, are providing detailed inspection of power generators that bypass the significant costs and power challenges of lost production time.
These miniscule robots can be inserted to test and analyse the running of critical generator components, providing strategic insight into maintenance and operations without having to ramp down generators.
5) Climbing robots scale new heights of inspection
Inspecting boiler rooms in power plants is a crucial operational need. But how do you safely inspect equipment in this harsh environment? The process typically leads to significant downtime as manual inspections require boilers to be shut down to enable workers safe access. Now, with the help of robotic snakes, that might be a thing of the past.
These innovative robots combine with connected IoT technologies to enter and survey boiler rooms without the need for operational disruption, saving up to five days of downtime. Similar solutions are being trialled throughout the world, as connected robots scale the walls and dive into the depths to ensure the continuing operations of our most critical energy infrastructure.