Fraunhofer IVV engineers have developed a new mobile cleaning robot to sanitize equipment and production spaces in a reproducible way.
According to the scientists led by Max Hesse from IVV’s Processing Technology Division, the new robot comes equipped with self-learning and autonomous motility system, and this allows it to automatically detect the degree of fouling and select the appropriate cleaning procedure.
The robot could be a boon to production lines and hygiene zones where absolute cleanliness is critical, such as food processing and medical instruments.
The modular cleaning robot comes in two variants: one travels down the production line on a conveyor belt, cleaning the equipment from the inside; the other cleans the floor, ceilings and walls of rooms and machines outer surfaces.
An extendable robot arm carrying a rotary jet cleaner can stretch to reach high spots on the production line.
This mobile, modular machine with the ability to independently scoot across the shop floor goes by the name of Mobile Cleaning Device 4.0 (MCD).
The Fraunhofer IVV team has also teamed up with Fraunhofer IOSB-AST scientists to develop a multi-sensor system for harsh environments; it employs an interesting method called ‘fluorosensing’ to spot contaminations.
According to the scientists, the system’s detector uses UV light to identify fluorescent particles such as fats, oils and proteins, and doses the foam and water according to the determined parameters, such as the layer thickness and dryness of the residue.
This is to be accomplished by a self-learning AI system – composed of a virtual twin – that selects the suitable cleaning parameters and specifies the process steps.
“Our tests have shown that this can save up to 50 percent on cleaning agents because no more than the actually needed amount is applied to the surfaces,” says Hesse.
“The system can be trained to clean as resource-efficiently as possible within a given period, for example, during the nightshift downtime in a factory operating in two shifts.”
An added benefit is that an automated routine documents the entire cleaning process, and all that automation ensures the procedure is highly reproducible.
Image and content: Fraunhofer IVV