Kiva Allgood believes robots will transform shipyards, and that's a good thing

Kiva Allgood believes robots will transform shipyards, and that’s a good thing

The global shipbuilding robots market size was $581.3 million in 2020. Market It is expected to grow to $1,001.4 billion in 2028. Parts of the shipbuilding sector have used industrial robotic arms for welding and blasting. But there has been a slower adoption of robotics and automation technologies to mitigate the labor-intensive elements of shipbuilding work and reduce the physical stress of workers.

Kiva Algood, President and CEO, Inc Sarcos RoboticsHe says that compared to the automotive industry, which has relied on robots for repetitive tasks for six decades, robotics in shipyards is still in its infancy. Allgood, previously Global Head of IoT and Automotive at Ericsson, wants to commercialize the company’s military expertise for applications that save lives.

“In the United States in particular, many of the risky tasks in shipyards today are not automated as they really should be, and like many industries, shipping has been heavily stressed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbating and highlighting the need to Increase automation in shipyards,” God said.

“Shipyards are ever-changing and complex environments; this makes it challenging to take advantage of traditional robotics,” said Allgood. “It is now possible to use highly adept mobile robotic systems that can perform repetitive tasks such as grinding, sandblasting or painting with supervised and tasked autonomy.”

Allgood says that by leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), shipyards can now use technologies that have been on the factory floor for decades.

Modern shipyards

Allgood says the shipyards of the future fall under a wide range of operations, from ship building and dismantling to military defense and operations that might not traditionally be seen as shipbuilding activities, such as maintenance and upkeep of offshore wind power generation equipment.

“In each of these operations are a variety of complex tasks involving welding and cutting, machining, plumbing, electrical work, rigging, painting, cleaning and removing paint and other coatings, and cleaning up chemical and fuel residue,” adds Allgood.

“Shipyards have always relied on skilled workers for tasks like painting, welding and cutting and these are tasks that have to be performed on different elements, at heights and even underwater,” said Algood. “The primary uses of robots in every shipbuilding application are to spare humans the risks of these types of tasks and to increase their productivity.”

Looking into the future, Allgood says that shipyards are likely to remain human-centric for the foreseeable future and that there is room for automation and tools that augment people’s ability and allow them to carry out tasks out of harm’s way.

“The industry is responding positively to highly adept mobile robotic systems that combine operator and machine to deliver human-like skill and task independence – while enhancing safety and improving productivity,” said Allgood.

“Shipyards will likely have robots capable of performing many tasks — with systems that can be upgraded to meet new requirements and functionality, reducing the need for operators to upgrade hardware and instead focus on software.”

Allgood adds that monitoring and inspection are also part of the shipyard’s future. “Today, an electromechanical system such as the Sarcos SapienSea Class can stay submerged for up to two hours at a time and remain fully functional at depths of up to one kilometer, making it much more flexible than a human doing the same job.”

Improve worker safety

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that between 2011 and 2017, shipyard workers experienced 45 fatal accidents and 61,600 non-fatal injuries/illnesses. a Report It was found by Water Welders that commercial divers die at 40 times the national rate of all workers.

Shipyard workers are at risk of exposure to chemicals such as asbestos, welding fumes, paints, solvents, and fuels, exposure to noise, extreme temperatures, vibration, improper body postures, and musculoskeletal injuries. “Shipyard workers may do their work dangling above the water while the ship is docked, and tasks may include welding underwater or removing hazardous materials,” Allgood said.

Allgood says U.S. shipyard workers are among the 16 million people estimated to be working in jobs that could be made safer with an increase in robotics. “The criterion for success for us is a significant reduction in on-the-job injuries and a twofold or more increase in employee productivity,” Allgood said.

“Remotely operated robots are vital to performing complex, even dangerous tasks that require human-like skill, all while keeping the operator out of harm’s way,” said Allgood.

Increase human power

In September 2022, Sarcos completed a Repair Technology Exercise (REPTX) Instrument Demonstration for the US Navy.

To demonstrate the field readiness of each robotic system, the Sarcos team was required to implement previously unknown functions to validate the resilience of their robotic systems.

“The robots performed tasks including upland rust removal and painting with off-the-shelf tools, laser ablation, plasma ablation and cold spray tools. The Sapien Sea Class performed tasks underwater, including inspections and object retrieval,” Allgood said.

Sarcos Sapien Sea Class underwater robot It has an integrated remotely operated vehicle that can maneuver in shallow and deep underwater environments up to one kilometer. It can also inspect the ship’s hull, propeller shaft and propeller shaft pipe, and retrieve unknown objects from the ship’s hull.

But Allgood says that although these field trials were conducted on Navy property, the functionality demonstrated by the robots in the trials is applicable to work performed on merchant ships and commercial shipyards around the world. “The September field test demonstrated new solutions that combine human intelligence, instinct, and judgment with robotic strength, endurance, and precision.”

“Most importantly, the field test demonstrated how robotic solutions are coupled with humans, not replaced,” Allgood said. “It demonstrated how augmenting the strength and capacity of the human worker can enhance productivity and reduce injuries.”

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