Robots Infiltrate the Sewers

“Robots Infiltrate the Sewers” was the subject line of an email we received from New Equipment Digest. Admittedly, the article when we clicked through was a bit less exciting than the email subject line. Instead of armies of robots swarming through sewers intent on enslaving humanity, the article actually is about robots that can clean sewers.

That’s good, too.

The robots, which have been popular in Germany, France, and Switzerland for a couple of decades, can clean and repair sewers without any need for digging up the pipes. They must have a great deal of power in a small footprint, and their makers at Pipetronics ensure that they have just that. Now they export their machinery to the U.S. and to Asia.

Electric, not hydraulic, automation

The NED interviewer asked whether hydraulic or electric machinery worked better in the sewers of the world, and engineer Markus Lämmerhirt came out in favor of electricity. “Hydraulic drives are very solid, but their efficiency is limited for our scope of applications,” he said. “Add to that the noise pollution and exhaust from the generator and the hydraulic unit. This should be avoided particularly when working in inner cities and residential areas. Electric drives and batteries allow us to operate the robot systems emission-free and almost noiseless.:”

As specialists in Rexroth electric industrial automation systems, we agree. We also think that sewer repair is an excellent choice for automation.

“We are expecting an increasing shortage of expert personnel,” says Lämmerhirt. “So the idea is to replace humans with intelligent technology that can be operated without specialized training. The trend leans towards automatic traveling to the damaged location and automatic repair.”

The NED interview also asked about the use of drones. Lämmerhirt remarked that they have already been used for inspection, but he plans to stick with wheels for repairs.

When you need repairs for your Rexroth motion control systems, you should think of us immediately. We can provide factory repair and reman quickly and efficiently, reducing downtime at your facility.

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