Robotic dog Spot sniffs through AB InBev brewery in Leuven


Traditionally, maintenance technicians at AB InBev brewery in Leuven detect problems and defects. Recently, as part of a pilot project, robot dog Spot started doing that. He turns out to be an expert in what is called predictive maintenance. He notices faster than humans when something is wrong.

Spot is a creation of well-known US robotics company Boston Dynamics. At the front, it is equipped with an infrared camera and at the back with an acoustic sensor. With the first, it detects possible overheated heat sources. With the second, it detects possible problems in the huge number of pipelines and valves. The big advantage is that this eliminates the need to shut down production lines, which is necessary when a technician performs an inspection round. Even before the issue grows into a real problem, it can be addressed. This is called preventive or predictive maintenance. Finally, the robot can optimise gas consumption and steam and compressed air emissions. The boring work is for Spot while technicians have to analyse its collected data and can concentrate on repairing defects.
Fully autonomous and via pre-programmed rounds, Spot performs 1,800 individual inspections per week along 10 packaging lines. In total, it has already detected hundreds of technical faults and prevented just as many line stoppages. Logically, this electronic colleague, for whom even climbing stairs is small beer, is also in demand in other departments.