Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has awarded a contract to OC Robotics to design and build a snake-arm robot mounted on a mobile vehicle that will be used to inspect complex pipework and structures within CANDU reactors.
The snake-arm will be 2m (7’) in length and will have a rectangular cross-section measuring 25mm (1") in width and 50mm (2") in height. In the first instance the snake-arm will be equipped with tip cameras for pipe inspection.
This is a breakthrough contract for OC Robotics as this is the first time they have been the prime contractor to a nuclear utilities company. OC Robotics won the contract by demonstrating previous nuclear experience and the ability to meet the stringent quality requirements including ISO9001. This contract is a huge achievement considering the company currently employs only 17 people and was bidding against some of the largest companies in the world.
OC Robotics was founded in 1997 and raised venture capital in 2001. Since then the company has grown from a 2-person start-up in a garage to a 17-strong company in 10,000 sq ft premises. OC Robotics has worked with some of the largest companies in the world across aerospace, defence, nuclear and other industries building snake-arm robots for a wide range of applications.
OC Robotics completed its first commercial nuclear contract in 2004. Working with Uddcomb AB, OC Robotics supplied two types of robot (five in total) to Ringhals AB in Sweden to complete an urgent pipe replacement in an extremely awkward area below one of their reactors.
Snake-arm robots are flexible robotic arms which have many joints so they can “follow their nose” into confined spaces. OC Robotics is the only commercial manufacturer of snake-arm robots in the world.
CANDU (CANada Deuterium Uranium) reactors are Canadian invented nuclear reactors originally developed in the 1950s and 1960s. There are currently 19 operational reactors in Canada and 23 in the rest of the world. OPG owns and runs 10 of these reactors and leases 2 others.