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MOTORS, DRIVES & CONTROLS


Versatrax 100 Pipe Inspection Crawler Image courtesy of Inuktun


many more areas of application, but, “we simply cannot talk about certain applications,” says Priscilla Johnson from Inuktun. “Our team always looks forward to developing special solutions for new challenges. Especially in cases where several requirements are combined.”


ROBOTSTHATREACH I


Stefan Roschi explains how robots that crawl into every nook and cranny are powered by brushed DC motors


t started as a project by two engineers who were close to retirement. Today, the modular inspection robots by Canadian company Inuktun are successfully in use all over the world – defying even the most adverse conditions Inuktun’s Multi-Mission Modular


(IM3) robot family just keeps growing. Te latest addition is a small crawler robot that magnetically “sticks” to metal walls and is able to move in all directions. It carries cameras, sensors and tools for inspection or maintenance work in tight pipes and on the outer hulls of tanks or ships. Te robot, named MiniMag, is able to operate both in air and under water. It can also be equipped with additional components from Inuktun or third-party manufacturers.


WHERE HUMANS CANNOT REACH Te Canadian company produces more than 100 camera and crawler systems per year, as well as components. Te remotely operated vehicles (ROV) are


successfully used all over the world for inspection and maintenance work. Tey can reach places that are inaccessible to humans due to space confinements or hazards. Te systems are resistant to the harshest ambient conditions. Tey are often used for applications in the oil and gas, petrochemical, nuclear and mining industries. Inuktun’s small inspection robots were also used after the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001, and after the 2011 tsunami in Japan. Tere are


MicroMag Miniature Magnetic Crawler www.engineerlive.com 57


MODULAR SYSTEM AS RECIPE FOR SUCCESS Back in 1989, Terry Knight and Al Robinson, the founders of Inuktun, probably didn’t expect they’d be this successful. At the time – both of them close to retirement – they began designing small swimming ROVs. Today, more than 50 people work at the Inuktun headquarters in Nanaimo. Te company has several sales companies and partners all over the world. And the market for industrial inspection robots is growing continually. But so are the requirements. Customers are increasingly demanding solutions that cover several fields of application. Tat is why Inuktun makes use of modular technology. It allows customers to specifically configure the perfect robotic solution for their needs from a large selection of proven cameras, crawler elements and controllers. When requirements change, new components can be added to the system or it can be completely reconfigured. Te company also offers a wide range of rental robots – with increasing success. Johnson explains: “In some cases customers cannot afford to buy a robot system. Existing customers, on the other hand, may have a special application for which their equipment is insufficient. With a rental system they are able to close the gap.” Inuktun uses components from Swiss


drive specialist maxon motor. All crawler modules and cameras are equipped with brushed maxon DC motors, using various motor-gearhead combinations. “We prefer maxon drives because they are efficient and silent,” says Johnson. maxon products are regularly used in difficult conditions, for applications such as deep drilling, underwater robots or rocket launches. For its sophisticated robots, Inuktun needs precisely this kind of reliability and quality. All the more since, in future, these robots are to perform their tasks autonomously.


Stefan Roschi is with maxon motor. www.maxonmotor.com


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