Mobile Robot Cleaner Takes Production Hygiene to a Higher Level

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Fraunhofer researchers have come up with a mobile cleaning device that sanitizes equipment and production spaces to standards in a reproducible way. Equipped with self-learning and autonomous motility systems, this robot automatically detects the degree of fouling and selects the appropriate cleaning procedure.

There is no room for compromises when it comes to hygiene in industrial food production. Although the task of cleaning plants and equipment is demanding and a determining factor of quality, much of this labour is still done manually. But despite all the vigilance of diligent cleaning crews, their work is hard to reproduce, prone to errors and time-consuming.

This has prompted a research team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Dresden to develop a modular cleaning robot, two variants of which are now up and running. One travels down the production line on a conveyor belt, cleaning the equipment from the inside; the other cleans the floor, ceilings and walls of rooms and machines outer surfaces.

This mobile, modular machine is called Mobile Cleaning Device 4.0 (MCD). The Fraunhofer IVV has teamed up with the Fraunhofer IOSB-AST at Ilmenau in a research project to look into a multi-sensor system for harsh environments. It is to be installed in the MCD.

“A detector uses UV light to identify fluorescent particles such as fats, oils and proteins and doses the foam and water according to the determined parameters, such as the layer thickness and dryness of the residue. This is to be accomplished by a self-learning AI system that selects the suitable cleaning parameters and specifies the process steps,” says Max Hesse, team leader at the Dresden branch lab for Processing Technology, explaining how this procedure works.

The MCD’s application range is not limited to the food industry. Diverse industries can benefit from the autonomous robot cleaners in times of crisis such as the corona pandemic. Both robot variants are evolving as the research continues, so they will be able to execute ever more complex cleaning tasks.

Further Information

Find the full press release here.