Evonik: Autonomous inspection in chemical facilities

The Specialty Chemicals Company relies on mobile robots equipped by Energy Robotics for autonomous inspection

Spot on one of its inspection missions at Evonik.

Evonik has been testing Spot for the inspection of a test facility since January. Adapted to the requirements of the industrial plant, the mobile robot completes automated inspection routes, reads analog gauges and collects data - even from measuring points that are difficult for humans to reach.

Spot can be controlled and trained remotely and autonomously to follow a predetermined inspection route. This is made possible by the combination of intuitive control, the robot's intelligence and Boston Dynamics' open interface with Energy Robotics' powerful control and autonomy software, intuitive user interface and encrypted cloud connection. With the help of the attached sensors, an infrared camera and an optical camera, Spot can navigate easily around Evonik's test facility. It manoeuvres unerringly through narrow corridors, while recording and transmitting information about onsite operations. For example, Spot reads analog devices and uses thermal imaging to detect defects in pipes and to monitor temperature levels - even from local sensors and places that are difficult for people to access. The collected data can be used to detect anomalies such as excessive temperature, leaks or contamination at an early stage, and also to monitor flow rates and pressure values. The use of the mobile robot supports Evonik in ensuring the high safety standards of the industry.

"Energy Robotics' autonomous inspection solution has convinced us that mobile robots are able to perform inspection tasks consistently and to reliably provide accurate information. We are now testing this technology," explains Dr. Uwe Piechottka, Process Technology & Engineering / Digital Process Technologies at Evonik. With Energy Robotics, Evonik has a partner with extensive know-how in the development of special operating systems for inspection robots.

Energy Robotics is one of the leading developers of software solutions for mobile inspection robots in industrial applications. In addition to the oil and gas industry, these are also used in the chemical and energy industries. The goal is to use autonomous robots to keep people out of dangerous or health-threatening work environments, while increasing the quality and frequency of inspections.

Energy Robotics' mission is to equip robots like Spot to keep people out of dangerous work environments, while increasing the quality of inspections at the same time.

"Inspection robots can relieve humans from repetitive work in environments that are hazardous to health. Our mission is to make the necessary work in such occupations easier and safer," explains Marc Dassler, CEO of Energy Robotics. " With Evonik, we are pleased to have won over another company from the chemical industry. The trust in our solution is the best proof for us that our inspection robots can be used in many different industries."

Evonik is also already thinking about the future. "We look forward to adding capabilities to the robot and expanding its ability to inspect our chemical plants," says Piechottka. If the test is successful, automation using autonomous, mobile inspection robots will be further expanded and these will also be used in the Essen-based chemical company's actual production facilities.