The SPRINT Robotics Award 2017 has been awarded to GE Inspection Robotics and IRISNDT. This award by the SPRINT Robotics Collaborative is awarded annually in recognition of ground-breaking collaborative work towards the acceptance of inspection and maintenance robotics in our society. The award was presented at the 2017 SPRINT Robotics Seminar on 13 December 2017 in Monte Carlo, Monaco. The Seminar was hosted by Dietsmann, a global leader in plant operation and maintenance based in Monaco.

The award was earned by the two companies for collaboration between a technology company and an industrial service provider to deliver a novel inspection solution that does not require human entry in large industrial pressure vessels. The API 510 compliant visual inspection method was developed and implemented at two different petrochemical facilities, one in the USA and another in the UK. Marcel Blinde, CEO of IRISNDT, said: “We are very proud to be presented with this award. It stimulates us to keep searching for novel service solutions that increase our added value to our customers”. Ekkehard Zwicker, CEO of GE Inspection Robotics, said: “Close collaboration with service providers and end users is essential for us to develop world-class robotic solutions. We learn a lot from such collaborations”. The primary drivers for this innovation are worker safety and plant availability. Eliminating the need for human entry in such hazardous environments greatly contributes to safety of personnel in the petrochemical industry. In addition, this inspection method speeds up the inspection process, resulting in increased plant availability, while maintaining plant reliability.

The 2nd place was awarded to the Austrian robotic developer Taurob who, in collaboration with TU Darmstadt and Total, developed and demonstrated the ARGOS-winning Argonauts – a fully automated, ATEX certified inspection robot. US-based Diakont was awarded the 3rd place for their collaboration with Chevron Energy Technology Company for the development and deployment of their Stingray – a Class 1 Division 1 Explosion Proof system designed and developed for the inspection of storage tank floors.

Tjibbe Bouma, Chairman of the SPRINT Robotics Collaborative, said: “SPRINT Robotics congratulates GE Inspection Robotics and IRISNDT for winning the SPRINT Robotics Award 2017. The large number of nominations received reconfirms that robotics for inspection & maintenance is a hot topic. The winning partnership is a prime example of collaborative efforts across the value chain to fast-track new solutions that keep our workforce safe”.

Tjibbe Bouma (left), Marcel Blinde (middle), Ekkehard Zwicker (right)

About the SPRINT Robotics Collaborative: Founded in January 2015, the SPRINT Robotics Collaborative is a not-for-profit, industry-driven foundation that promotes the development, availability, application and commercialization of robotic techniques in technical inspections and maintenance of capital intensive infrastructure. The goal of the SPRINT Robotics Collaborative is to fast-track the market readiness of robotic solutions as these can reduce the cost, improve the quality and increase the safety of performing maintenance, inspection and cleaning activities.