A robofuel system used extensively in mining may soon improve safety in other industries.
A robotic, automated refuelling station developed for mining industry use could one day find applications in agriculture.
Scott Automation + Robotics, the company behind the development of a series of automated carcase cutting systems being developed for the beef and sheepmeat processing industry, is behind the new Robofuel system launched recently.
As the accompanying video shows, the new technology is already in use in the mining industry, in some applications teamed with driverless heavy haulage vehicles.
Activated from the vehicle cabin after aligning the vehicle correctly with the filling station, Robofuel uses a state-of-the-art vision sensing and detection system allowing the robot to locate the position and orientation of the truck’s fuel tank access-point. This information is used to remove the fuel cap, couple the fuel nozzle with the tank and perform the fill, disconnect and replace the fuel cap. Fuel spillages are minimised through the controlled coupling and pumping, mitigating the risk of environmental contamination.
The robot can increase fuel delivery flow rates, as it can lift much larger hoses than a manual operator. The Robofuel system is designed to improve labour efficiency and safety, and reduce time spent on fills, improving fleet utilisation.
The process eliminates personnel requirements such as those stationed on-site at fuel stations or mobile equipment and allows the driver or a remote operations centre to supervise and confirm activities.
RoboFuel is configurable to suit all commercial fuel nozzles and receivers with no additional equipment required on the vehicle.
The technology uses climate control and ingress protection systems to ensure reliable operations across hot, dusty, cold and wet conditions. Movement detection during the fill cycle detects and detracts in the case of inadvertent drive-offs.
Cleaning and automated washing options are available to ensure consistent and contamination-free connections even in extreme operating conditions.
Similar systems could one day be used for feedlot feed delivery vehicles, tractors and grain harvesting machinery or livestock transport applications.
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