Mesa developed, tested, demonstrated and produced three gantry manipulators for a government facility. Mesa’s scope of work included design of a system capable of interfacing with other waste treatment process equipment necessary to fill casks remotely and to provide containment sufficient to meet storage, transportation and disposal regulations.
Each gantry manipulator is capable of providing automatic control of the entire batch sequence or allowing operations to conduct a manual override of any step in the process. When the system is operating in manual and automatic modes, an operator interface provides indication and alarming for key process parameters.
In automatic mode, the control system, vision system and robotics work together to select the appropriate robot end-effector for each sequence. The vision system locates critical cask and lid features in order to position end-effectors as needed to carry out process steps.
A sequence begins when the robot control system receives notification of an available empty container. The robot removes and stores the lid prior to the container loading/filling step. Once the full container is returned to the robot, the control system measures the height of the radioactive material and records the data for operations. The vision system and robotics place the lid in position while ensuring correct alignment between cask and lid rivet holes. After returning the gripper to its holster and obtaining the rivet gun, the robot loads the first of six rivets into the gun and moves into position for lid attachment. The lid is attached to the cask using the vision system to locate rivet holes while following a star pattern for force balance. Automatic detection and recovery from a failed rivet firing sequence is built into the control system and robotics. Once the lid is secured, the control system sends a sequence complete message to the operator and to the host computer.