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Reshaping Plant Operations: Harnessing the Power of Robotic Tank Cleaning

 In Plant Manager Tips

The industrial industry relies heavily on safety, security, and sanitation. Even a single mistake could result in a major problem or disaster. So, it’s no surprise that many industrial plants focus on safe, consistent operations, especially when it comes to ensuring that vital infrastructure is kept clean.

Many industrial sites and facilities use large storage tanks for chemicals and raw materials, so plants must regularly clean them. Humans have been responsible for cleaning industrial tanks for years, but robotic tank cleaning is becoming a beneficial and cost-effective alternative. Let’s take a closer look at how robotic tank cleaning can impact plant operations. 

The Importance of Tank Cleaning in Industrial Plants

Plants must clean industrial tanks frequently. This measure isn’t just for safety reasons, although safety is a significant benefit. In addition to ensuring that people around tanks are kept safe, tank cleaning:

  • Extends the life of each tank regularly cleaned: Consistent cleaning schedules prevent waste and debris from accumulating and leading to rust or other types of damage, such as corrosion.
  • Improves industrial efficiency: By removing garbage and debris that can build up over time, tank cleaning makes those tanks much more effective and efficient for their operations.
  • Boosts tank quality: Plants use industrial tanks frequently to store consumer-facing products. By keeping industrial tanks clean, businesses maintain product quality for end-users.
  • Ensures proper environmental management: Industrial tanks are not dangerous to the local environment and ecosystems when cleaned properly. Thus, companies have a vested interest in inspecting, maintaining, and cleaning their tanks as often as possible.

Given the importance of cleaning industrial tanks at facilities and worksites, it should be no surprise that robotic tank cleaning is quickly becoming the preferred solution for companies worldwide.

Understanding Robotic Tank Cleaning

In a nutshell, robotic tank cleaning uses specially designed, versatile mechanical instruments that can enter industrial tanks, clean them thoroughly, and check for waste and debris. Many tank cleaning robots – often called “ecobots” – are simple machines on treads or wheels, enabling them to adequately maneuver throughout an industrial tank’s interior.

Compared to their human counterparts, robotic tank cleaners have several key differences and advantages:

  • Robotic tank cleaners increase employee safety. Since humans aren’t required to go into the confined spaces of industrial tanks – often being exposed to hazardous chemicals and gasses in the process – robots can tackle this dirty work and minimize the risk to a company’s human element.
  • Tank cleaning robots are also highly cost-effective compared to human cleaners. Even if a facility can’t afford to purchase a tank cleaning robot outright, it’s possible that the same organization could lease a robot to get the job done.
  • Tank cleaning robots can complete industrial tank cleaning tasks much faster than human crews. Robots can work day or night and do the same job as a human crew without making any mistakes.

Overall, the added safety, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness that tank cleaning robots bring to the table make them the most practical choice compared to traditional human cleaning crews.

The Impact of Robotic Tank Cleaning on Plant Operations

Many facilities have already discovered the significant and positive impact tank cleaning robots have had on their industrial plant operations.

For starters, tank cleaning robots can help industrial plants prevent contamination of products and other facility materials. This capability has major implications for plant operational efficiency and consistency of output.

Ecobots can also significantly streamline work processes. Since tank cleaning robots can clean tanks day and night without taking breaks or making as many mistakes as humans (if any), they have the potential to boost productivity at any given worksite.

In this way, a facility can clean many more tanks in a single day than they could with a full complement of human crews. Those humans can then focus on other tasks related to plant operations, all while being safer than they would if they had to crawl into an industrial tank and clean it personally.

Investing in Robotic Technology for Improved Plant Efficiency

While there can be little doubt that robotic tank cleaners are highly efficient and productive, many companies may be hesitant to implement them at their facilities due to costs. Ultimately, however, the cost-benefit analysis of these tools is clear: it’s cheaper in the long run to use robots than it is to continue to use costly labor.

Several studies indicate that adopting robots in higher-wage economies is even more profitable. Robots save labor costs much more in developed companies compared to developing countries when considering wage levels.

That said, it’s also true that implementing robots throughout one’s workforce will inevitably be rife with difficulties. Cultural attitudes, for example, may make it difficult to force adoption too early. As an example, robots “replacing” human jobs is more acceptable in South Korea, while it is less acceptable in America – likely due to cultural differences. It is important to note that historically speaking, cost savings in one area leads to economic growth and opportunity in others. So, the possibility of new job creation can help calm fears. 

Improving plant efficiency and investing in robotic technology by training employees to use and maintain the robots is worth it. Reallocating your labor force and spending effort educating your employees about the benefits of robot tank cleaners could do wonders for speed of adoption and workplace culture.

Preparing Your Plant for Robotic Tank Cleaning

When you finally start using robotic tank cleaners, you’ll need to prepare your plant accordingly to ensure everything goes off without a hitch. Here are a few steps to keep in mind:

  • First, always choose your industrial cleaning robots carefully. You’ll want to pick the right bots for the right job, so do your research and purchase robots that will provide numerous benefits and will be maintainable at your facility for years to come.
  • As you install and set up the robots and their software, be sure to focus on staff training. The best robots are only as good as their operators – to that end, your human workforce needs to be prepared for the shift to robotic cleaning technologies as well.
  • Always set up a few trial runs with your cleaning robots before having them take over all or most of your cleaning projects. This adjustment period will give your staff time to work out the kinks of the new technology and figure out how to solve problems when they inevitably arise.

What if your staff resists the shift? Again, focus on reallocating your staff to different jobs or offering generous severance packages. If you can’t afford an entire fleet of cleaning robots right now, consider leasing a few bots to tackle the most dangerous cleaning tasks and save your staff from potential danger.

Start Reaping the Benefits of Robotic Tank Cleaning for Your Plant

Robotic tank cleaning has the potential to seriously and positively transform your plant and its operations. The more you lean into this technology, the more productive your plant will be, the more money you’ll save, and the safer your employees will be. 

Learn more about how robotic tank cleaning with Ecorobotics can enhance safety and optimize your plant’s operational function. 

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