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Robots vs Humans: Which is Safer for Tank Cleaning?

 In Industrial

Until recently, human crews have been cleaning tanks in industrial settings exclusively. But, with the latest technology emerging, robots are taking over the task. It is no longer necessary for  Plant Managers to put their crews in hazardous, confined places for tank cleanings

Plant Managers can use tank cleaning robots as an effective method to not only save time and money, but they keep their human crews safe from unnecessary dangers on the job. 


Using Human Crews for Tank Cleaning

When humans clean industrial tanks, they are exposed to a variety of toxins. Tanks are filled with toxic substances like wastewater and other hazardous sludge. 

humans cleaning tanks

Despite crews wearing protective gear, there is still the possibility that they could have accidental exposure to these substances; especially when being exposed to such materials over an extended period of time. 

Human tank-cleaning crews are also exposed to gasses that could cause permanent damage to their health. There is always a chance that safety gear could break down while crews are cleaning the tanks. If accidents happen while cleaning the tanks, crews are not able to exit the tank speedily. The floors can be slippery and the openings are small. 

Exposure to these biohazards can result in nerve damage, cancer-related issues, and death. No  Manager wants to put their employees into these situations. Luckily, there is a solution now – tank cleaning robots. 

Case Study: See how much a chemical plant saved by moving forward with robotic tank cleaning. View

Causes Project Delays

When humans are used for tank cleaning projects, Plant Managers must follow all federal regulations. OSHA regulations for confined spaces in industrial tanks are strict and for good reasons. 

The regulations are designed to prevent accidents and remove unsafe conditions from the workplace. Tanks must be safe before humans can even enter them, and this is a time-consuming and expensive task that must be completed before people can enter and begin cleaning. 

At all times:

The tank-cleaning process must be closely monitored. 

Along with safe conditions, workers need breaks and they can only work a limited amount of time each day. They also need to be properly trained and equipped before they can begin the tank cleaning process. It is no wonder that alternatives to industrial tank cleaning are being developed. 

When employees are pulled from their regular positions to clean industrial tanks, production slows. Employees have to be trained and tested to ensure that they fully understand what they are to do in the tanks, especially if problems arise. 


Using Robots for Tank Cleanings

Robots that enter and clean tanks are changing the way that plant maintenance is conducted. Major manufacturers are taking notice as they set deadlines to remove humans from the process of cleaning industrial tanks. 


Setting an Industry Standard 

The newest industry standard is to use robots to clean dangerously toxic tanks. Large chemical companies like Dow have set a goal to stop sending human crews into confined spaces by the year 2025. 

Employees in the industrial setting already have dangerous jobs on the daily, and entering confined spaces filled with toxic sludge and gasses puts them at an unnecessarily greater risk for injury or death. 

The goal of ending confined space entry is realistic. Instead of relying on human crews, Managers are turning to robots to take care of dangerous tank-cleaning tasks. 

With a robot, Plant Managers no longer have to worry about injuries to their human employees. Instead, the robots can get into the tanks, and do the cleaning without fears of injuries or threats to their health. 

The robots are introducing a new wave of employee safety that is changing the way industrial tanks are maintained. 

Increased Employee Safety

Confined spaces, like industrial tanks, are where terrible accidents often happen. The results of those accidents can cause debilitating injuries or even death. Taking the human element completely out of the tank cleaning process improves working conditions for everyone at the plant.


A robot enters the tank and completely removes the risk of injury or exposure to toxic materials. 

Operators manage the robots via remote controls from outside of the tanks in a safe environment. There is no reason for human employees to ever have to enter confined space, as the robot can complete the task faster than any human can. 

Robots clean the tanks more thoroughly than human crews do, too. When robots clean industrial tanks, the decontamination process is speedier than when humans do the job. Robots can be sprayed with cleansers both before and after they clean the tanks. 

On the other hand, humans need to be safely decontaminated, which also requires special training and more chemicals. There is no doubt that eco-robots are the better option for cleaning industrial tanks and other hazardous confined spaces. 


Cost Savings

When Plant Managers turn to robots for tank cleaning, less time and money are needed. There is an upfront cost to using tank-cleaning robots, but the safety of the crew is well worth it. 

If outright purchasing a tank-cleaning robot is not in your budget, leases are an affordable and common option in the industry. 

Robots get the job done significantly faster than human crews, and they do it without making mistakes. Robots do not need to take breaks, and they can work at any time of the day or night. They do not need protective safety gear and do not need lights or set temperatures. 

When you factor in the cost of human lives, tank-cleaning robots are invaluable. They remove the dangers to crews, and they get the job done in less time. Human employees can focus on the jobs they were hired to do, and productivity stays at respectable levels. 


Your employees will know their safety is a top priority.


Be a Leader in Your Industry

The benefits of using tank-cleaning robots are numerous. At the top of the list, they remove human crews from dangerous – potentially deadly – confined-space situations. Tank-cleaning robots get the job done faster than humans do, and they do it at a much lower cost. 

They do not need to be trained, covered in safety gear, or given breaks. What are you waiting for? Make the switch to robotic tank cleaning today, and be a leader in your industry.

Take the risk out of tank cleaning

Download our case study to learn how a $60 billion company saves with robotic tank cleaning

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