Robotic Eddy Current Condenser Inspection Equipment Capability
Navy SBIR 2011.1 - Topic N111-059
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam - email@example.com
Opens: December 13, 2010 - Closes: January 12, 2011
N111-059 TITLE: Robotic Eddy Current Condenser Inspection Equipment Capability
TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Materials/Processes, Sensors, Electronics
ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMS312
OBJECTIVE: New technologies to provide for remote eddy current inspection of condensers is needed. The fleet does not have an ability to safely and productively inspect condensers. Development of remote control, robotic or other automated means would reduce errors, save considerable hard physical labor, reduce acquisition time for condenser inspection and most important would reduce human exposure to harmful materials, such as lead and other toxic materials.
DESCRIPTION: Eddy current inspections are required to ensure the integrity of condenser tube walls. Loss of integrity of condenser tube wall leads to chloride contamination of the steam propulsion plant resulting in shutting down propulsion and possible lost of platform availability. During each non dry-docking availabilities approximately 25% of the tubes are inspected and 100% of the tubes are inspected during dry-docking availabilities. Manual tube sheet indexing and probe location has historically shown an error rate up to a 3% leading to fatigue, loss of productivity, and may negatively affect work scheduling and availability completion.
The processes required to complete this testing is repetitive, time-consuming, and inefficient due to the manual labor associated with indexing. The work environment is industrial – it is cramped, dirty, and with wide temperature ranges and humidity levels.
Research is required in this area to automate this arduous and time-consuming process by eliminating or greatly reducing the amount of human interaction required to perform this task. An automated tool, capable of multi-axis functionality would decrease error, and increase the speed and quality of eddy current testing. Decreasing the time required to conduct eddy current testing of condensers may remove this testing from the maintenance critical path, thus allowing more flexibility in scheduling and possible increase in ship’s operational availability.
Due to the work environment and location, there are special requirements are necessary and any solution must work with existing shipboard and shipyard systems.
Any developed equipment must be transportable by a maximum two man crew; this may be accomplished in individual elements and assembled on site. Equipment shall be capable of 30 minute setup and 30 minute tear down. Equipment should require only one operator with an associated function to record results of testing automatically.
Due to the hazardous nature of the work required, safety is a high priority. All electrical and test connections shall be water tight and quick disconnect. Pinch points shall be minimized to the maximum extent possible. Multiple LED or Strobe warning lights shall be connectable to the fixture interlocks and shall operate from initial warning tone until equipment is safety locked and shut down.
Equipment shall be capable of automated probe positioning for probe insertion/retraction of 200 tubes per hour minimum, contiguous, with calibration and required scan pattern, scalable as software/hardware improvements are installed. Equipment should interface with existing software and network infrastructure, if possible. Equipment shall Log and notify acquisition operator when a tube has any blockage preventing full length of tube inspection. Equipment shall allow manual probing of tubes found to have blockage or geometry issues, while in a hold mode for manual inspection, and probe head is still connected to the fixture.
The design should consider future scalability to allow for other smaller condenser units/different tube sheet layouts to be inspected. Fixture shall be capable of attaching to the tube sheet without damaging or deforming tubes. Equipment shall have auto tracking/error correction capabilities using Independent Position Verification (IPV).
Interfacing software will be Windows XP or newer O/S compatible and shall use AutoCAD produced maps to identify tube layout, with the ability for users to integrate new maps for different type condenser units as required. Equipment must run on 110 Vac/20 amps grounded electrical power and /or 100-120 psi tool air. Equipment shall perform self check verification prior to actual ET inspection as well as electrical self diagnostics. Equipment/Fixture shall allow calibration standardization/verification external to the condenser unit within a 15 minute window from stop to restart by accessing the probe at the front of the pusher.
PHASE I: The Vendor will develop a concept for a robotic or automated multi-axis manipulator and associated data recording capability to be utilized in Naval Shipyards for eddy current testing of condensers and heat exchangers.
PHASE II: The vendor will Build and Demonstrate a full-scale working prototype of the developed technology and data recording equipment associated with logging results of testing. The Navy will provide a detailed statement of work to include clear performance requirements. The Vendor will demonstrate operation of the prototype in meeting the Navy's statement of work. Upon satisfactory demonstration at the vendor's facility; the vendor will participate with the Navy in arranging a realistic demonstration as part of a Phase II option in a naval shipyard in an appropriate application. The vendor and Navy will correct any discovered performance shortcomings in the Phase II option. The Navy will develop a detailed plan for implementation and funding of the successful capability into Naval Shipyard operations and inventories. Full scale testing at a Naval Shipyard is unclassified work, but access requirements dictate that the work be accomplished by U.S. citizens with a minimum of a Confidential security clearance.
PHASE III: The vendor will work with the Navy to develop a shipyard-ready capability. This includes Developing the capacity for production of fieldable units, including special tools, logistics support in the form of provisioning, technical documentation, drawings, operating manuals, and training. Phase III work, while unclassified, would be considered U-NNPI or NOFORN indicating that all work must be handled and accomplished by U.S. citizens.
PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: Ship repair, condenser, and heat exchanger inspections,
2. NAVSEA T9074-AT-GIB-010/2032
3. NAVSEA Drawing 7668287
4. IP 56 Industry Standard – Waterproof specification standard
5. MIL-STD-767-2041- Manufacturing and assembling cleanliness requirements
KEYWORDS: Eddy current, robotics, manipulator, autonomous