WR-ALC Robotics systems keep maintenance workers safe from hazards

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  • By Joseph Mather
  • Robins Public Affairs


VIDEO | 01:58 | New Robotic system at Robins

Robotic systems are being used at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex where hazardous processes exist.

There are 35 robotic systems performing various programmed depot maintenance functions in the 402nd Commodities Maintenance Group with additional systems on the way.

Robotic systems are doing 22 different processes across the base where hazards to workers exist, said Shane Groves, WR-ALC Robotics Engineer chief.

“Each environment has different hazards like heavy metals, high volatile organic compounds, repetitive injuries and cutting injuries,” he said. “The end goal is to remove personnel from these environments.”

Groves said people are the most important aspect of the sustainment mission.

“Robotics removes people from these hazardous environments but still allows them to give us their expertise,” he said.  “They are able to provide their input to these systems so we can better develop robotic automation to accomplish jobs that were not able to be done by robotics in the past.”

Jessica Adams, 402nd CMXG Robotics Support Team engineer, said the team supports all the robotics systems that are in the production processes with the 402nd CMXG and she has started training the operators to use the radome repair robot.

“I am one of the main engineers that is dedicated to supporting the radome repair robot,” she said. “We are trying to pull people out of the booth to protect them and to turn robotic systems over to the operators to be used as tools to do the same type of production.

“This is a very advanced system and it is very easy to use, so the training involved is not that extensive,” she continued. “As soon as they feel comfortable, we will put it in to production.”

Adams said there has been improvement in production.

“We have noticed as we put robotics systems in, we get an improvement in our throughput and our quality,” she said.

Groves said the use of robotics systems will bring cost savings.

“It means that up until now, we couldn't tell if a radome was going to pass or fail until it made it to the last step in the testing process,” he said. “With this new system we will know if there are issues early on and either have the opportunity to fix those issues and save the radome, or know that there are too many issues and not waste our man hours on trying to repair a radome that will never pass.”

Groves said currently the WR-ALC leads the way in the use of robotics systems throughout the Department of Defense as it relates to the implementation of robotics for sustainment. In the next three years they are on track to have 65 robotics systems that will perform 35 different PDM processes and are looking to add members to the robotics team.

“We currently have five people who are dedicated to supporting robotics,” he said. “We have asked for five more people to grow our team, and to be able to support our future robotic systems capabilities.”