A maintenance team for industrial upkeep at Ferrovial Services has created a robot to make preventive maintenance on overhead cranes easier and better.
The robot was created with the goal of resolving the problem of rail beams being difficult to access, thereby improving preventive maintenance work, reducing costs, and minimizing workplace hazards.
This robot, named ICaRo (Inspector de Carrileras Robotizado, or the Robotic Rail Inspector for overhead cranes), can be operated remotely during inspection work. That way, the robot uses an HD camera for recording, which will help improve inspecting the rails’ status on the overhead crane’s track. The overhead cranes are necessary tools for production development in any industrial setting, so they are critical assets that must be offline for the least amount of time possible.
The idea for this robot came about when faced with the difficulties of getting to certain areas of the beams when it is time to perform preventive maintenance on overhead cranes. The maintenance team suspected that the rail could have broken soldering because the sound of the crane’s wheels rolling changed when they passed over that area. Thanks to the robot, they could remotely visualize where the problem was located, how serious it was, and then determine the course of action to follow to carry out the necessary repairs. Manuel Hernández Rubio, technical construction manager at Ferrovial Services, was in charge of creating and manufacturing the robot.
ICaRo is a robot created for a specific purpose on a certain task, but it is versatile enough to be adapted to other things. That is, it could be reprogrammed or rescaled to other accessories or improvements that will be studied over time as the device continues to be used.
The main benefit of this device is that it is an operational improvement to preventive maintenance work since the robot allows operators to see the length of the track, which is sometimes difficult or impossible due to accessibility reasons. In addition, another advantage stemming from its use is reducing costs by spending less time on inspections, minimizing workplace hazards, and lowering the impact on clients’ production processes.
A unique design
The most common height of rails and the width of beams were taken into consideration for the robots’ design. The size of the wheels, as well as the adjustable guides, make the robot strong enough to stay steady on the tracks where the work is being done at considerable heights. Likewise, the flexibility of the chassis lets it navigate dirt and obstacles it may come across during the inspection.
The device includes an HD camera that connects to a PC via Wi-Fi, so it can visualize and record the state of the rails to then generate reports and analyze images. The robot is controlled from the same PC terminal via Bluetooth, using the keyboard to control movement, speed, and distance traveled. By recording with the HD camera, the inspector can check:
- The cleanliness of the track.
- The status of the soldering between the rail and the support beam
- Any metallic residue to detect possible effects on the overhead crane’s wheels or track
- The condition of the guide outline and joints between different sections of the track