New robot enhances preventative crane maintenance

The Ferrovial Services team at Airbus' Getafe facility in Madrid has developed a robot to enhance preventative maintenance work on gantry cranes, reducing costs and minimising safety risks.

Named ICaRo (Inspector de carrileras robotizado para puentes grúa), the robot was developed to inspect the parts of the gantry crane that are difficult to access. Manuel Hernández Rubio, Technical Manager at Ferrovial Services, designed and built the robot.

ICaRo is fitted with a high-definition camera that provides vision of the entire length of the crane rail. The camera connects via Wi-Fi to a computer, where the rail can be viewed and recorded for subsequent report production and image processing. The direction and speed of the robot are controlled via Bluetooth using the computer's keyboard.

The robot makes it possible to:

  • check whether the rail is clean
  • check the status of the welds between the rail and the underlying beam
  • detect metal debris that might indicate problems with the rail or wheels, and
  • check the status of the guide beam and the welds between its various sections.

The maintenance team at Airbus Getafe noticed a change in sound when the crane wheels passed certain points on the rails, and suspected that some of the welds had failed. Using the robot, they were able to locate and assess the problem, and then design a plan of action to make the necessary adjustments.

ICaRo was designed to work with the most common crane rail heights and beam widths. Its wheel size and adjustable guides make it robust enough to work securely at considerable heights. The flexible chassis also enables the robot to overcome dirt that it may encounter during the inspection process. The robot is versatile and can be reprogrammed to climb other installations.