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Support for original equipment manufacturers

Andrew Woloszyn, TWI Group Manager explains how TWI acts as a technology broker for Original Equipment Manufacturers.

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Drawing on TWI’s expertise in joining, inspection, and materials allows us to act as a technology broker to bridge the gap and find solutions for both original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and industry itself.

This includes improving manufacturing methods and efficiency through the use of new technologies and materials, to creating bespoke solutions using our knowledge of existing equipment and processes. Aligning the needs of industry with the capabilities of equipment manufacturers takes full advantage of TWI’s independent position, meaning that we can locate the best solution for any situation by focussing purely on the problem at hand and the available resources to solve it. Meanwhile, if required, our experts can help to progress and advance the work of the most suitable OEM to get a solution ready for market.

One such example of where TWI used our knowhow and connections was the development and eventual implementation of ‘LaserSnake,’ which was a collaborative project with OC Robotics. 

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The dismantling and decommission of redundant nuclear equipment can be a costly, time-consuming and potentially hazardous procedure. Finding a solution for the likes of Sellafield Ltd and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority that was dextrous enough to complete the work in highly hazardous confined environments as well as meeting the associated rigorous safety requirements was a challenge. However, by using our contacts with OEMs, TWI was able to not only meet the requirements for decommissioning but also help develop a novel new solution to an industry problem. 

Laser Snake demonstration
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The solution required a system that was reusable, reliable, robust, safe, and cost efficient, while an added bonus would be finding a system that could also save time. TWI worked with OC Robotics to produce a solution that met all of these requirements, while drawing on our expertise and innovation as well as our knowledge of the requirements to provide the best result for industry. 

Although the LaserSnake arm was developed by OC Robotics, TWI’s knowledge was still required to create a suitable laser cutting head for the robotic arm. Lasers were deemed to be the optimal solution due to the fact that their lightweight compact process heads make them well suited to remote deployment.

In addition, lasers produce minimal fume with a low dispersal of fume particles, and lower rates of secondary waste streams since operator suits or contaminated hand equipment do not need to be used and disposed of. The remote operation capabilities afforded by the LaserSnake system also reduced operator exposure to contamination while high productivity rates and reliability created economic savings.

 

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The LaserSnake project went on to win the Technology/Innovation Implementation Award at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority Supply Chain Awards in November 2016, recognising the innovation and collaborative effort required to advance the technology to successful implementation at a Site License Company. Furthermore, the technology is now being considered for use in areas outside nuclear decommissioning that offer limited access and aggressive environments, such as chemical plants, bridges, and offshore platforms. TWI’s independence was integral to making this project a success, allowing us to find the best solution for an industry-driven need, while also helping to advance the technology through the application of our expert knowledge, technological capability and understanding of processes.This is just one example of how TWI can provide skilled assistance to both equipment manufacturers and Industrial Members alike.

For more information, please email contactus@twi.co.uk.

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