Industrial robots are reaching new heights. While most people may associate these machines with manufacturing, they see use in a wide variety of industries and applications. One of the most fascinating of these is water treatment. Here are five ways robots are improving water treatment processes today.
Water treatment systems must prevent leaks, but checking for them manually is inefficient and potentially expensive. That’s why an increasing number of facilities are turning to industrial robots to automate the process. One such solution is the Pipeguard robot from MIT.
Pipeguard travels through a pipe to scan for current and potential leaks, regardless of material. Since the system travels through a line, it provides a more granular look at its condition. Workers can then pinpoint leaks and possible future rupture points, fixing them before they become larger issues.
Polluted water causes more annual deaths than all violence and war combined. As such, detecting pollution early is critical to preventing disease and protecting the environment. Just as some organizations deploy mobile robots to inspect pipe quality, some use similar solutions to monitor water contamination.
Small, eel-like robots swim through natural bodies of water and treatment facilities, gathering data on its contents. If they detect anything out of the ordinary, they alert workers, guiding fast, effective responses. Users can also customize these machines, integrating various sensors to check for different contaminants.
Industrial robots also play a crucial role in the manufacturing side of the water treatment industry. Treatment plants require boilers, pipes and other infrastructure that can resist rust and last for years without degrading. Robotic welding machines are the ideal solution to provide this reliability.
Robots are more precise than humans and can repeat that precision for every weld as long as they’re in good condition. As a result, they can produce water systems with fewer, if any, structural defects, ensuring long-term durability.
Water treatment systems like boilers must remain as clean as possible to function correctly. Buildup could hamper water quality or affect the accuracy of sample testing, but manual cleaning is slow and disruptive. Robots like Waygate Technologies’ Boiler Robotic Inspection and Cleaning (BRIC) can clean faster, more effectively and sometimes even work without emptying boilers.
A slight error in sample sizes can skew quality testing by 10%-30%, making robots the ideal cleaning solution. Their sensors’ precision enables them to ensure they’re cleaning boilers effectively, and if they’re not, workers will tell from this data.
One of the newest use cases for industrial robots in the water system is disease tracking. Researchers have found that many diseases, like COVID-19, leave traces in wastewater, which can help track and predict local outbreaks. Robots can conduct analysis far faster than nonautomated processes, enabling quicker reactions.
One such robot is Fluid Health, the product of the Indian/U.S. startup Fluid Robotics. Fluid Health originally tracked pollution in wastewater and map sewers, but amid the COVID-19 pandemic, its creators modified it to test samples for the virus. This data about pathogen levels tied to sewer maps provides a more informative picture of how diseases spread throughout a community.
Robots may be new to water treatment, but they’ve already shown considerable promise. As more organizations implement these tools, the industry will become safer and more efficient across the board. Public health and liquid product quality will improve as a result, all thanks to industrial robots.