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Current approaches to thermal inspection often fail to deliver on the promise of Industry 4.0. Mobile robots can help fill the gaps for a repeatable, scalable predictive maintenance program.
In a manufacturing facility, detecting an overheating pump or motor before it fails can mean the difference between a simple repair and tens of thousands of dollars per hour in downtime. However, many companies have been slow to see all the benefits of predictive maintenance programs. The reasons vary from organization to organization—including the loss of experienced staff, schedule limitations, and the challenges of inspecting areas that are too dangerous to access without a shutdown.
One of the most common alternatives to manual inspection is to use fixed IoT thermal sensors. But this often only provides coverage for a fraction of a facility’s most important assets. Both methods are often limited in scope, time-consuming, or expensive—or all three.
As a result, they don’t end up being predictive in a meaningful sense. Either a skilled thermographer takes time out of their busy day to check hundreds of motors and moving parts, or you hope that the motor that fails is the one with the fixed sensor. Spotting thermal anomalies before failure can be like finding a needle in a haystack.
New agile mobile sensing platforms like Spot offer a better option. These robots walk through a facility autonomously, gathering the thermal imagery you need. They offer a repeatable, scalable method for achieving your predictive maintenance goals and taking the next step toward Industry 4.0.
A robot like Spot alleviates some of the challenges of manual and fixed-sensing approaches to inspection. You create an inspection route and Spot replays it, bringing IR cameras and other sensing payloads to the assets you want to monitor. It is intuitive to implement, so you can get right to work with autonomous thermal inspections. Additionally, Spot can operate in dangerous places in your facility without requiring a shutdown—reducing downtime and improving safety for people on site.
You can equip Spot with a variety of sensor payloads, including the Spot CAM+IR payload, to ensure you get all the inspection data you need. Spot uses intelligent sensor pointing to collect the same data the same way every time. It can capture thermal imagery for every important asset on the schedule you set. This reduces the burden on maintenance teams’ schedules and budgets, allowing technicians to focus on true corrective work rather than inspections. It also produces the comprehensive, structured data that a facility needs for an effective predictive maintenance program.
Many companies are already using Spot as part of their journey to predictive maintenance and Industry 4.0. The robot is working in a variety of facilities, performing automated thermal inspections of pumps, motors, bushings, insulators, steam traps, and conveyors. And that’s helping maintenance teams identify simple repairs before they become expensive problems.
Recent updates to Spot and the Scout software make it easier than ever to deploy Spot as a thermal inspection solution, analyze the results, and deliver value for your predictive maintenance program.
Use Scout to manage a fleet of Spot robots and the missions they perform. The software also consolidates any data collected by the fleet so all of your thermal inspections are readily accessible in one place.
Spot’s thermal inspection tool generates several outputs in Scout, including RGB images and color map thermal images that highlight max and min temperature alarms. These images make it simple to identify temperature anomalies and compare inspection results at a glance.
Spot can also trigger email or text alerts to notify operators of any anomalies it detects. Your maintenance team can then open Scout to check the thermal inspection data and compare it to historical data to determine the next course of action quickly.
Scout uses the structured data captured by Spot to generate data-series visualizations. For example, it produces trend graphs that show you temperature measurements over time for each inspection point.
Scout includes an API that enables external systems—like a facility’s existing asset management platform—to query inspection data. That means you can view the thermal inspection data in a broader context without even needing to open Scout.
To learn more about how Spot is making thermal inspections for asset management simple, efficient, and cost-effective, watch our on-demand webinar: Elevate Your Predictive Maintenance With Automated Thermal Inspections.
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