What are the robot technology options and how do costs compare?

Robots could potentially reduce capital expenditure in nuclear pressure vessel machining but what specific robotics technology is best for this application and what are the actual costs and benefits? This project was conducted for Rolls-Royce Civil Nuclear and answered these questions with a technology exploration study and a conceptual cost-benefit analysis to compare conventional and robotic machining operations.

The project took inspiration from proven applications in industries such as aerospace, automotive, defence, rail and energy to determine potentially relevant robotic technologies for machining in the nuclear industry. These options were then technically benchmarked against key criteria to determine the most viable system. The most suitable one was then used in an economic comparison with the clients existing process.

The project found that, using a robotic alternative, an estimated 88% reduction in machining costs could be achieved with an improvement in payback period of 74%. This highlighted significant potential for improving competitiveness. To realise these benefits, various recommendations were made to pursue the necessary R&D to overcome barriers to technology adoption, which lead to various additional projects. Details of this R&D are also given in the Our Work page.

This work was presented at the Nuclear Energy for New Europe conference, held in Slovenia in 2013, and published in its proceedings. For more information please contact us or see the full article:

Using "Process-to-Part" Techniques in Large Nuclear Power Plant Component Manufacturing to Improve Supplier Competitiveness