12,700 kilometers is the diameter of the earth; 797,000 kilometers is the length of water supply pipes in China; 630,000 kilometers is the length of drainage pipes… High-speed urbanization has lead to large-scale expansion of urban underground pipe networks in China. Accurate and timely inspection reports, demanded by municipal governments to support the sustainable development of cities, are needed to understand this huge “underground kingdom“ consisting of pipelines.
Traditionally, pipelines are inspected manually, as you can often see two or three workers doing their job around the manholes in the city, but this is not only time-consuming and inefficient, but also sometimes dangerous. Urban underground pipelines are usually installed in some very narrow spaces that can be difficult to access. Besides, as labor costs are getting higher and market demand is growing, it is of great significance to develop pipeline robotics.
In 2009, SROD Industrial Group Co., Ltd (hereinafter referred to as “SROD”) started to research pipeline robotics. After ten years of development, as a leading company in the special robotics industry, SROD has already possessed 20% of the market share and independent R&D technologies such as 3D sonar and 3D laser, and has made many breakthroughs in the research of pipeline inspection and repair.
As an equipment manufacturer, SROD has improved many of its equipment technologies, but it is still difficult to control the quality of its pipeline inspection reports after the equipment is sold.
Pipeline robotics with IIoT
In July 2018, SROD chose to establish a strategic partnership with ROOTCLOUD. With the help of ROOTCLOUD, SROD focuses on three major priorities: device management, after-sales service management and video cloud sharing, utilizing industrial robot solutions to build an end-to-end intelligent service cloud platform for special robots. As a result, these SROD pipeline robots connected through IoT technologies, are no longer just simple high-tech devices. They can not only accurately survey and inspect the pipelines, but also upload pictures, videos and other key data to the cloud platform in real time.
With these fresh data in hand, analysts at the SROD Analysis Center can begin generating standardized high-quality reports, unifying the quality of the reports, reducing the time to complete inspections from 10 days to 2 days, and making the entire process transparent and traceable.
Moreover, intelligent service cloud platform is used for device fault alarms and timely reports. According to the system‘s fault handling plan, the SROD After-sales Center can remotely guide customers to conduct fault investigation and analysis.
With device management, we can provide customers with proactive and fast maintenance services and device maintenance reminders, and through online work order management, we can accumulate maintenance data and guide parts management.
Currently, SROD is collecting and storing a large number of pictures and videos on the ROOTCLOUD cloud platform to deposit enough industrial big data records for machine learning. “Now people still need to study the videos obtained in real time to understand the real circumstances. Like, there is some concrete, this is a branch, and here is a crack, how wide and how long is this crack, and then people will generate a report. However, in the future, SROD will integrate its robotics with AI technologies.”
With AI on the IIoT platform, high-end technologies will be upgraded to high-end intelligence, so robots will automatically generate high quality reports based on automatic inspections, and all customers who buy a SROD robot will no longer obtain just a device, but also a full set of value-added services such as device management, standard reports, predictive maintenance and repair, and remote rental monitoring. “This is the real value that SROD gives to its customers.”