When talking about “robots”, most people may refer to those that look like the one in a movie “Transformer” or Japanese cartoon character such as Gundam Gunpla which can be able to transfigure and overcome villains that want to occupy the world. Many people may desire to have these robots literally show up in daily life. In the actual world, researchers have invented many kinds of robots such as those that take care of elderly people and domestic or household robots that work for human. Their figures are various due to their usability.

          Robots are created to facilitate some works in electric power industry as well. As a leading organization of Thailand’s power utility, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) has supported National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC) on its development of a robot with thickness less than 2 centimeters for generator inspection. This very thin robot is called a generator inspection vehicle which will be used for EGAT’s power plant maintenances.

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Development of a robot with thickness less than 2 centimeters for generator inspection

          It is capable of inspecting small power generators to assess stator wedge tightness. The generator inspection vehicle’s features include sensor and camera that can record a board perspective of detailed visual inspections. In the future, this thin robot will be improved and able to grip material or pieces of metal which may cause malfunction to the generator. As an air passage at a heating vent may be blocked up by some material or pieces of metal, some generator’s internal parts can be damaged or warped, which can cause imbalance and vibration.

          Normally, generators inspection schedules are defined in EGAT’s power plant maintenance plan. However, since the Generator Inspection Vehicle has been used accordingly, it helps reduce time of inspections. As a result, machine stop time for maintenance is shorter; thus, electricity generation efficiency increases. The researchers had spent almost 2 years to successfully create this generator inspection robot.

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Photograph of the Generator’s Inner Room Taken By a Camera Installed At the Robot

          In 2016, EGAT started using the generator inspection robots at Wangnoi Power Plant Block 3 and Mae Moh Power Plant Units 11 and 12. Their performances are excellent. They were showcased at the Conference of Electric Power supply Industry 2014 or CEPSI 2014, Republic of Korea. A number of participants at the conference were very much interested in them.

          The robot with thickness less than 2 centimeters for generator inspection is thinner than imported robot with thickness at 3.5 centimeters that was manufactured and distributed by a company in Canada. Its price is very high at Baht 9 - 10 million. Moreover, it takes over the than 2 - 3 months for maintenance in each time because the user has to send it back to an overseas manufacturer. However, the generator inspection robot created by Thai researchers at NECTEC costs only Baht 3,600,000 approximately. Its features can be adjusted by installing appropriate software and hardware. It is convenient for maintenance as well.

          The robot with thickness less than 2 centimeters for generator inspection will be developed further. In the future, it will be improved to meet requirements and demand of the industrial sector.

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