CRITICAL REAL-TIME

In the context of Critical Real-Time Control, the founder and team have worked on several projects with applications on diverse industrial sectors. The projects are briefly summarized below.

 

       Inspection and repair of Nuclear Plants infrastructure

  • AARM: Robot Arm for Inspection and Repairs in Nuclear Reactors
  • LMR: Long-Reach Modular Robot for Nuclear Reactors

       Maintenance and Repair of Underground Gas Pipes

  • CISBOT: Robots for Repair and Inspection of Natural Gas Underground Pipes
  • KEYHOLE: Robots for External Service of Underground Gas Pipes

       Laboratory Automation

  • HTBP: High-Throughput Bioassay Processor for Nuclear Reactor
  • HDR: High-Density Replicator of Bacteria Colonies in Bio Laboratory
  • AS: Auto-Sampler for Mass Spectrometer in Bio Laboratory

       Forestry Operations

  • TJ1: Hydraulic Remote Manipulator for Tree Pruning

       Meat Grading

  • APGS: Automatic Pork Grading System in Abattoirs

     Tire Grading

  • ATCA: Automatic Tire Case Analyzer for Tire Recycling

       Manufacturing

  • PG1: Pneumatic Bellow-Based Gripper for Electronic Parts Assembly

 

AARM: Robot Arm for Inspection and Repairs in Nuclear Reactors

 At the core of a CANDU nuclear reactor is the Calandria vessel. It contains a network of horizontal tubes for fuelling the reactor. After several decades of service these fuelling tubes must be replaced in a process known as “re-tubing” of the reactor. It is of utmost importance that during this operation no debris or foreign matters remain inside the Calandria. ANVIV has supplied robots for such operations with the ability to pick up and remove any debris. ANVIV has also supplied custom-made robotic systems that can be used to inspect the interior of nuclear reactor core.

This robot arm is a tool for visual inspection and repair inside a nuclear reactor.  The tool takes full advantage of the opportunity created during reactors’ retrofit operations to inspect components that have not been visible since the reactor was initially commissioned usually several decades earlier. Specifically, during a retrofit of a reactor this tool is inserted through a lattice sleeve tube in the shielding wall of the reactor after the fueling and pressure tubes have been removed. 

The system consists of a long two joints boom with a manipulator arm attached to its end. The robot is equipped with radiation-hardened camera system for visual inspection and guiding of the robot arm, a vacuum nozzle for removing of small shavings and dust-like debris, and a gripper for removing of larger items – up to approximately 1 kg. The arm can also be fitted with an ultrasonic hardness tester.

The arm is constructed of radiation hardened material and components. When in operation, the tool built-in shielding mitigates and essentially eliminates the “open channel of radiation” that is inherent when accessing the internal portions of the reactor. The arm comes with a modular end-effector that can be used to pick up small debris visually located during the inspection process.

 

LMR: Long-Reach Modular Robot  for Nuclear Reactors

The LMR system was developed to assess the structural integrity of the dump-tank support columns at Nuclear Stations. The LMR is a modular long-reach (21’) robotic arm capable of entering the vault through a small 10” (25 cm) diameter opening tunnel to perform inspection tasks. Ultrasonic sensors are mounted at the tip of the arm. The arm can also be used to fill the support column with water and unplug the bottom of the column to drain the water. The objective is to non-destructively inspect the supports by scanning their surface.

 

CISBOT:  Robots for Repair and Inspection of Natural Gas Underground Pipes

Underground cast iron gas pipes contain bell-and-spigot joints at 12 feet intervals. The joint is generally filled with jute packing and sealed with lead. The joint can develop leaks over time and must be repaired. One of the most frequently performed repair procedure is to inject manually an anaerobic sealant into the jute packing. This procedure requires an excavation at each joint to allow drilling a hole through the bell into the jute and inject a measured quantity of anaerobic sealant. Such a process is laborious and costly.

ANVIV has developed a novel technique to perform cast iron bell and spigot joint sealing from inside the pipe using remotely controlled robots. The robot is launched into the pipe through a certain size opening fitted with special tool that allows the robot to be pushed into the pipe while blocking the gas to exit. The robot travels inside the pipe until a desired joint is reached and drills a hole into the joint spigot at the highest point. Then anaerobic sealant is injected into the jute packing to perform the joint sealing. This approach replicates the repair procedure currently done externally.

ANVIV has developed a series of robotic systems for inspection and repair of live gas mains with diameters from 6” to 42”. The products have been developed in stages: (i) 6” – 12”; (ii) 12”- 24”; and (iii) 24”- 42”.

The travel through the pipe is achieved by pushing a specially designed umbilical tube in the 6”-12” pipe, or through a self-propelled robot in the larger pipes (12” – 42”). The new internal sealing system can seal several joints from a single excavation while keeping the main in service. It can be inserted into the main up to 150 feet (over 45 meters) in each direction from the entry point. Therefore, 24 joints can be sealed from a single excavation.

 

KEYHOLE: Robots for External Service of Underground Gas Pipes

ANVIV has provided custom robotic tools for maintenance and repair of underground gas pipes by remote control. The tools are operated from above ground through a small opening in the ground (keyhole technology).

 

HTBP: High-Throughput Bioassay Processor for Nuclear Reactor

A turnkey robot system for bioassay sample preparation, handling and analysis for laboratory and industrial use. The robot takes a very small quantity of the sample from a container, puts it into a sample vial, adds reagents, caps and seals the vial, mixes it, and places it into a cassette for analysis. More than 500 samples per day can be processed.

 

HDR: High-Density Replicator of Bacteria Colonies in Bio Laboratory

The High-Density Colony Replicator (HDR) is a dispensable, very high-density bio-sample array replicator as an attachment to colony picking robots.

 

AS: Auto-Sampler for Mass Spectrometer in Bio Laboratory

The Auto-Sampler for Mass Spectrometer (AS) is a method and equipment for very low-loss automatic injection of samples into the mass spectrometer column.

 

TJ1: Hydraulic Remote Manipulator for Tree Pruning

Tree trimming in the vicinity of live electrical distribution lines has proven to be dangerous for workers. In response to concerns of worker safety, the TJ1 has been developed. It is a remote master-slave hydraulic manipulator, with the intent of relocating workers away from hazardous tasks. An assortment of hydraulic tools can be attached to the slave to enable its use in a variety of high-risk tasks.

The slave is a 6-DOF hydraulic arm, and the master is a 5 degree-of-freedom electric arm. The master is instrumented to provide the operator with torque feedback with respect to two axes of rotation. This allows the operator to feel the contact forces and moments in and about certain directions. Such capability can be extended to a complete six degrees of freedom. The communication between master and slave is via fibre-optic cable.

 

APGS: Automatic Pork Grading System in Abattoirs

APGS replaces the human grader in the repetitive and tedious task of manual grading of pork carcasses. Currently, only grading of fat/lean thickness is performed. Automatic grading can be performed, as the carcass moves along the abattoir line, for fat/lean thickness, PSE (paleness, softness and exudativeness) characteristics, and marbling content of a fresh pork carcass.

The grading can be performed in several ways: (i) invasively, by the insertion of a grading probe, at a designated spot identified by ultrasound technology; (ii) non-invasively, using ultrasound and infrared technologies; or (iii) a combination of both. Manual fat/lean thickness is generally done using invasive grading. Non-invasive grading ensures consistency and that no cross contamination occurs between carcasses.

APGS is comprised of three sub-systems:

  • Robotic Subsystem that carries the Sensing and Probing Subsystem which scans the pork carcass, as the carcass moves along the conveyor line, to locate the designated spot for probing (invasive or non-invasive) and perform grading.
  • Clamping Subsystem that automatically clamps the pork carcass as it enters the grading station and presents the carcass at a constant position and orientation, during the grading operation.
  • Sensing and Probing Subsystem that uses a dual echo ultrasonic technology to detect the probing site and perform the probing.

 

ATCA: Automatic Tire Case Analyzer for Tire Recycling

For many years, the tire industry has been searching for a non-destructive, simple way to inspect tires and tire casings for flaws. Good casings are presently being discarded, causing a detrimental effect on the environment. Furthermore, tires are often prepared for retreading only to discover that the casing has major irreparable flaws. ATCA eliminates these concerns resulting in significant economic benefits.

ATCA employs an intelligent controller based on two robotic systems that carry 28 ultrasonic sensors. The controller provides autonomous positioning and guidance of the sensors which are manoeuvred within a tested tire by a very compact foldable robot. The array of sensors conforms to the shape of the specific tire loaded. Based on the ultrasonic signal, the sensors detect the defects in the tire. An intelligent algorithm has been developed to evaluate the defects, classify them according to size, shape and severity.

The defect is then graphically displayed on a computer screen to enable further inspection. Paint markers are applied to the tire at the location of the defect.

The robot manipulators and sensory arrays have been specifically designed to handle a variety of small and large tires. A sensor protection mechanism has been developed to prevent damage of delicate sensor arrays from nails that may have penetrated into the tire walls. Special material is used to achieve quality ultrasonic inspection.

 

PG1: Pneumatic Bellow-Based Gripper for Electronic Parts Assembly

The PG1 compliant gripper is a special type of robot end-effector. It was developed to pick up and insert odd electronic components that are presented either misaligned or disoriented. PG1 consists of three modules:

  • End-Gripper that opens to hold and closes to release the workpiece using a pair of custom-made work-piece jaws that fit manually into the gripper.
  • Endcap that opens to accommodate and closes to affix the work-piece misalignment and disorientation.
  • Air-Cushion Damper that is either active or passive to provide a damping effect.

The operation sequence of the PG1 for a pick-up and insertion task is as follows:

  • Robot carrying the gripper approaches the workpiece
  • End-Gripper and Endcap are in open positions
  • If the workpiece is misaligned or disoriented, the Endcap adjusts itself to the workpiece
  • End-Gripper closes to grasp the workpiece
  • Endcap closes to affix the workpiece in the gripper

Robot moves to the desired position to perform the insertion.

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