Testing household appliances for leaks is a challenge for manufacturers, but robots and artificial intelligence can make it easier. Micropsi Industries GmbH today said its MIRAI robot control system now automates previously manual leak detection for global appliance makers such as BSH Hausgeräte GmbH.
Micropsi offers this “fridge-sniffing” system with Atec GmbH Automatisierungssoftware. The Berlin-based company said it provides a quick, reliable, and cost-effective solution for leak-detection tasks and other complex industrial processes. The system can also lower ongoing operating costs and reduce the need for maintenance, said Micropsi.
“AI-driven systems such as MIRAI independently derive solutions in the event of variances such as changing lighting conditions or workpieces whose position or composition deviates,” said Ronnie Vuine, CEO of Micropsi Industries. “This allows them to optimize production processes and relieve human employees of highly complex tasks for the first time.”
“In fact, AI gives robots hand-eye coordination and enables them to react to their environment in real time,” he added. “Robots controlled by MIRAI learn numerous tasks in just a few hours. They only need to be guided by a human worker a few times under different lighting conditions and other variances. The camera observes the process and records the obtained data.”
Micropsi MIRAI helps look for leaks
Micropsi Industries said its flagship product MIRAI can control collaborative robot arms in real time in direct response to sensor information. AI and machine vision enable the cobots to learn from humans and deal with variances so they can more easily and cost-effectively operate in dynamic environments, said the company, which has offices in Berlin and New York.
Micropsi said MIRAI can automate quality-control processes such as the leak testing, which plays an important role in the production of refrigeration and air-conditioning technology. Whether a heat pump, refrigerator, or a room or a car air conditioner, leak testing is just as relevant for manufacturers and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) service providers as it is for companies in the automotive or semiconductor industries.
Currently, humans guide sniffer probes along copper pipelines and compressors to check seals and soldered joints for leaking gas and refrigerant. If a leak remains undetected, cooling is not ensured in the long term, making the product defective or even unusable.
Before the Micropsi and Atec system, it was not possible to automate this special quality control because solder joints vary, said the companies. For example, each refrigerator back is unique in terms of the position, color, and shape of solder points. This posed an insurmountable obstacle for traditional industrial robots, said Micropsi.
The monotonous, time-consuming, and sometimes ergonomically unfavorable task of guiding a sniffer probe to within a millimeter of the pipes has generally been manual. The MIRAI/Atec system quickly and easily automates this process, claimed Micropsi, with the MIRAI AI controller enabling it to be used in diverse industrial sectors.
Automated leak testing at BSH
At the Spanish site of BSH Hausgeräte, MIRAI-controlled robots conduct fridge sniffing to inspect refrigerator coolant lines and detect leaks.
“BSH proposed a challenging use case to Micropsi,” explained Javier Chasco Echeverria, an engineer for Industry 4.0 at BSH, a Bosch Group company. “Detecting leaks in the refrigeration circuit has always been a manual process due to the high variability in the position of the parts, the appearance of the connections, and the high number of variants.”
“With MIRAI's machine learning technology, we solved a problem that could not be solved with traditional automation technology,” he said. “All cycle-time, accuracy, and performance KPIs [key performance indicators] were achieved, and our productivity and quality improved. We see this as a key technology that we will continue to work on and will consider MIRAI for other demanding applications in the future.”